EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 17, 2013

New cell tower proposed in Plaistow

Plaistow still has many dead zones

By Alex Lippa

---- — PLAISTOW — Lost calls in Plaistow could soon be a thing of the past.

Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said he has had discussions with cell tower developers to add a second tower in town.

“We’ve identified significant dead zones of cellular coverage in Plaistow,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve begun to strategize on how we can improve the coverage for private cell carriers and improve public safety communications.”

Last week, Fitzgerald met with James George, a consultant with Global Tower Partners, the largest privately owned tower company in the U.S.

“We are having a discussion regarding publicly owned property along the northern portion on Route 121A,” George said. “This would bring in revenue for Plaistow and improve their infrastructure.”

The cost of the tower and the revenue it would generate are unknown at this point.

The only cell tower in town is a converted water tower at 144 Main St. Fitzgerald hopes a new tower in another section of town would provide better coverage for residents.

“There are significant dead zones in Plaistow,” Fitzgerald said. “More and more people are not using landlines. For several neighborhoods, no cell coverage can be frustrating.”

In 2007, George submitted a plan for a similar tower, but it was rejected by the zoning board because it was too close to a residential area. This tower would be on town-owned land and would not be subject to the same restrictions.

Revenue from a new tower would be a major benefit to the town. The existing tower generates $130,000 each year, Fitzgerald said.

“It helps offset local real estate tax,” he said.

Police Lt. William Baldwin also believes a second tower would improve emergency communication.

“We’re trying to enhance interoperability for police and fire,” Baldwin said. “Right now, they can have difficulty with two-way radios in that area.”

But the tower would serve more than Plaistow, according to George.

“It’s right on the Hampstead border, so they would receive some service,” he said. “It would also extend into Atkinson and into a corner of Kingston as well.”

George also said it would benefit those who visit the town forest.

Discussions are still in the early stages, George and Fitzgerald said.

“I still need to talk to wireless carriers, so we can come up with the costs and then we can proceed from there,” George said.

“We need to talk with the Board of Selectmen and other land-use boards in town to make sure we understand the impacts of this,” Fitzgerald said. “We want to be sensitive to the neighborhoods. We’re still months away from those discussions.”