By Justin Saglio
Marlborough – Marlborough City Council denied Verizon Wireless a permit to build a wireless tower following 12 months of cooperation between the company and Marlborough city councilors.
Verizon's proposal for a 120-foot tower at Kane Self-Storage, 800 Bolton St., received seven of the eight positive votes it needed to allow construction to begin.
A presentation from US Wireless minutes before the decision about Verizon's permit made at least one councilor vote against the measure to grant Verizon permission. US Wireless, a cell tower development firm, proposed an alternative site for a wireless tower on public property, which has the potential to bring in millions in tax revenue for the city.
Chris Hesse, a principal at US Wireless, said the tower, based on property fees, will bring in at least $1 million in revenue over a 25-year period. If more carriers sign on to broadcast through the tower, an additional $1 million could be going into the city's coffers.
If the US Wireless proposal is accepted in subsequent council meetings, a 180-foot galvanized steel pole will sit on a former landfill. Proposed for 402 Bolton St., the alternative tower site is just yards from the one proposed by Verizon.
Francis Parisi, an attorney working for US Wireless, explained that accepting Verizon's proposal would eliminate the viability of the alternative tower due to guidelines set in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. To grant a permit for a wireless tower a municipality must be able to prove there is no facility in the area able to provide the same service, he said.
Ward 1 City Councilor Joseph F. Delano Jr. was one of four councilors who voted against Verizon's proposal after seeing the alternative option proposed by US Wireless.
“I don's owe anything to Verizon, but I do owe something to the people who I represent,” Delano said. “I have to give the edge to the taxpayers.”
Attorney James Valeriani, who represented Verizon during its presentation to the City Council, spoke in opposition to the US Wireless proposal. He told the council that without at least three carriers signed onto broadcasting through the tower, the site would not be economically viable, comparing building the alternative tower to building a shopping mall without any tenants.
US Wireless has received interest from one wireless provider in broadcasting from the proposed tower. The facility has the capability to accommodate up to four carriers.
“I don's know any other carriers that would be interested in the [US Wireless] site.” Valeriani said.
Reacting to the allegations of a lack of interest in the proposed US Wireless site, Hesse said he has been working with wireless providers to sign onto broadcasting through the tower if accepted by the council.
“I have talked to the carriers, I understand their build plans and I understand when this will be a priority,” Hesse said.
In preparation for the presentation, US Wireless conducted a series of tests, including floating a balloon to determine the visual impact of the cell tower if it is built and ensuring the facility is a safe distance from residential areas.
Parisi told reporters that the US Wireless proposal is a better option for Marlborough than the one proposed by its rival Verizon.
“We have entered into a leasing agreement on town property, which gives a benefit to the city,” he said.