MVC greenlights AT&T cell tower on Chappy

ATT has decided to vacate its permit application for a cell tower on Chappaquiddick. - Gabrielle Mannino

Thursday night the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) approved building a 115-foot AT&T cell tower on Chappaquiddick, bringing a major improvement in wireless coverage for Edgartown’s sparsely settled island a step closer to reality.

The commissioners placed two conditions on their approval — that a decommissioning bond be put in place at a dollar value to be chosen by the Edgartown Planning Board, and that the same board must decide if the tower will be a traditional monopole or a monopine, a type of tower that mimics a conifer. The bond would be used to pay for the removal of the pole at the end of its usefulness.

Commissioners Gail Barmakian and Ben Robinson were the only votes not in favor of the tower.

Proponents of the cell tower have said a tower would make the island safer because it allows public safety officials to be alerted to emergencies more quickly. Opponents have argued there are other sites on Chappy that would be better suited for such a tower.

The permanent tower will be sited where the temporary tower now sits, on Robert Fynbo’s property at 14 Sampson Ave.

Despite questions of aeronautical safety, the commision reconfirmed that the tower would not be illuminated. Reached by telephone after the meeting, MVC executive director Adam Turner clarified that the Federal Aviation Administration will ultimately decide whether safety lights will be affixed to the tower.

The tower must still be approved by the town of Edgartown and the Federal Communications Commission before it can be installed.