They didn’t say no, but the message to AT&T about a wireless small cell antenna on a utility pole at 59 Church St. was as clear as if they were speaking on a landline — find a new location.
In a 2-1 vote Tuesday, with select board member Larry Gomez in opposition because he was ready to vote no, the Tisbury select board continued the public hearing to the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, July 28, to give the company time to come up with alternatives. But with Gomez already openly opposing the site and board member Jeff Kristal and chairman Jim Rogers urging that other sites be considered, AT&T attorney Edward Pare said, “I get the message loud and clear.”
Kristal suggested AT&T look at the town hall roof. The steeple has been taken down and is being rebuilt, and could make a good location for a cell antenna, he said. “I really don’t think they’ve done their homework to find the sites,” Kristal said.
Two neighbors of the Church Street location voiced their objections during the public hearing.
“It’s going to be right in my view when I look out my bedroom window,” Church Street resident Ludwig Alban said, noting the pole is about 18 feet away. He expressed concerns about public health, something Gomez also touched on, linking emissions of microwaves to cancer.
Pare said the cell antennas are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, and AT&T complies with those regulations.
Another neighbor, Robert Bennett, said the antenna is “inconsistent with the character of the neighborhood.” He also cited the possible health risks and the close proximity to the town’s historic district. He suggested a pole on the corner of Church and Franklin streets might be better suited.
Pare said the cell antenna is being proposed to improve service, particularly in light of the explosion of people using cell data. He said the antenna would be mounted to the side of a pole.
“Do you really think that people living in a residential neighborhood, such as this pole is going to go on, that these people want to see this pole outside their house?” Kristal said. He suggested AT&T find a more suitable location.
Pare said the locations for such antennas are limited. “With respect to the aesthetics, I hear you; if there are other locations in the area we can take a look at, great,” he said.
Outdoor dining for Mikado
Mikado Asian Bistro will be able to provide outdoor dining in three parking spots outside its 76 Main St. location for a couple of months during the summer. “That would allow good social distancing that can’t be achieved on the sidewalk,” Grande said. “That would really create a nice environment if done correctly.”
Select board members unanimously endorsed the idea, with landlord Peter Cronig and owner Xi Yu also in the audience of the Zoom meeting. “It would be nice to have another restaurant opened that’s not takeout,” Gomez said.
The concept was approved unanimously, with the logistics to be worked out between Grande, Police Chief Mark Saloio, and the restaurant.
“Will police help us barrier it off?” Cronig asked. “If a car is parked there, how do you politely tell them it’s time to move?”
Those are the types of questions that will be answered between the restaurant and the police chief.
“I’m all for helping our businesses that have been hurting through this whole shutdown,” Rogers said.
A banner created by the Vineyard Haven Business Association will be going up across Main Street urging people to wear masks, social distance, and wash their hands, Grande said.
In other business, select board members unanimously approved a $129,000 grant for Tashmoo Channel and Lake Street dredging.
The board also had a discussion about a petition submitted by residents of Skiff Avenue asking for the road’s speed limit to be reduced from 35 to 20 mph. Saloio told the board the department has had a presence in the neighborhood, and has been issuing tickets for speeding.
Grande told the board posting a new speed limit alone won’t slow traffic. It also requires “traffic calming” to be successful, he said.
Two taxi companies — Able Taxi and Atlantic Cab — had their licenses renewed, although Atlantic will have a subsequent inspection by police to make sure their taxis are equipped to carry Vineyard visitors. Kristal complained that the interior of that company’s cabs was not up to snuff.
A moped license was approved for Island Adventure with no discussion, a far cry from previous years when mopeds were a hot topic.
The board closed a public hearing on Vineyard Grocer’s common victualer’s license without taking action because owner Elio Silva has still not had the final installation of the fire alarm system inspected.
Fire Chief Greg Leland told the board that the system, which controls the smoke detectors and sprinkler system, is still not functioning.
Board members expressed concern, especially since there are apartments on the second floor. Though those have separate smoke detectors, Leland said, the situation is not ideal from a safety perspective. “There is a level of protection for the people up above, but not a comfortable level,” he said.
The town’s enforcement officials will be notified that the store is not in compliance. “I don’t want to see anyone shut down, but this is a safety concern,” Gomez said.
The board opened its meeting going through a laundry list of annual appointments to boards and committees, with little or no discussion.
Later, John Cahill was appointed to a task force considering long-range planning for the Steamship Authority at the request of general manager Robert Davis and special counsel Steve Sayers. The board delayed action on appointing DPW Kirk Metell to make sure it’s something he can fit into his schedule, and will seek a candidate for a short-term working group looking at traffic and noise complaints in Woods Hole.