AT&T dish request sparks Milan planning dispute

At the Milan planning board meeting May 7, AT&T Wireless presented a plan to add a 3-foot microwave dish 105 feet up on an existing wireless communications tower at 616 Salisbury Turnpike.

Geoffrey Gutowski, representing AT&T, told the board that the microwave dish would bring faster data speed to customers.

But the application sparked a bit of dispute among the planners.

Board member Nathaniel Charny disagreed with the use of the word “renewal” in the application to add the dish and said the addition should be an amendment, rather than a renewal. The rest of the board agreed and amended the official language.

Board member James Jeffreys then said that, because it was an amendment, no public hearing was required on the action.

Charny disagreed, saying that according to the zoning code, new technology requires a public hearing. He asked to review AT&T’s special use permit, which was renewed Feb. 12, and upon finding no mention of microwaves, he repeated his request that the board hold a public hearing on the amendment.

Jeffreys contended, however, that microwaves are not new technology because the original elevation shot of the tower proposal included pictures of microwave dishes to be added at some point in the future. Also, he said, there is already a microwave dish on the tower at 95 feet, which, according to Gutowski, does not belong to AT&T.

With two members absent, the planning board voted 4-1 not to hold a public hearing on the amendment and 4-1 to approve the request to upgrade the tower with the microwave dish.

In both cases, Charny voted “no,” maintaining that “the process [was] being subverted to avoid public input,” in stark opposition to Jeffreys’ assertion that the board was “staying in the spirit of the law.”

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