Cell tower gets rise out of Chappy residents

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This AT&T map illustrates expected wireless coverage from the temporary monopole antenna. Areas shown in white are those with the weakest signal.

The AT&T proposal to replace the existing temporary cell tower at 14 Sampson Ave. on Chappaquiddick with a permanent structure faces strong opposition from the community.

At an Edgartown planning board meeting Tuesday, residents stood by their claims that the tower interferes with the Island’s natural aesthetic, but some also expressed health and safety concerns.

The Strayton family lives in the neighborhood where the cell tower stands, and says the base station is located less than 200 feet from their front door. They live among other residents who are concerned about radiation waves, considering the proximity of the cell tower to their homes.

“This is not a question of whether a pole will appear on the 14 Sampson Ave. property,” AT&T representative Brian Grossman said. “We know the answer to that question.”

The proposal includes a 115-foot monopole with antennas and any associated radio communications.

Mr. Grossman pointed out there are no plans to move the existing temporary tower, so if the town elected to place the tower in another location, it doubles the amount of towers on Chappaquiddick. Verizon is also seeking to use the tower, assuming the proposal moves forward.

Planning board member Robert M. Cavallo said the Edgartown planning board received about 80 letters about the tower issue, but only had the opportunity to read one into the record, by Roger Becker, president of Chappaquiddick Island Association. His letter suggested keeping the temporary tower.

“In terms of emergency, safety service, is there going to be any difference in terms of getting ahold of 911 or calling policemen?” Mr. Becker asked.

Mr. Cavallo asked the mass of community members who attended the hearing if they had written a letter, not to speak for the sake of time.

“I think that’s unconstitutional,” resident Dana Strayton said. Mrs. Strayton and her husband Rob said they represent their community because some fear repercussions from speaking out.

The planning board closed the hearing and referred the issue to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.