Verizon obtains permit to install cell tower in South Grafton

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Verizon obtains permit to install cell tower in South GraftonGRAFTON – A cell tower is coming to South Grafton.

On Monday, Feb. 12, the Planning Board approved a special permit for Verizon to erect a wireless communications tower at 58 Follette St. on Lazy Hill, close to the Sutton line.

Michael Giaimo of Robinson + Cole, representing Verizon, said the tower would be sited on the “back side” of Lazy Hill, and it would be 155 feet in height.

This site was chosen over 21 Follette St., a town-owned parcel with an array of solar panels, along with adjacent wetlands.

Last fall, Virtual Site Simulations conducted a balloon test on behalf of Verizon, to ascertain whether the proposed tower could be seen from adjacent neighborhoods. According to Virtual Site Simulations, in most cases, the balloon could not be seen.

However, some abutters claimed otherwise.

“Verizon’s proposed tower on Lazy Hill will cause the permanent blighting of our scenic landscaping,” resident Adam Wray told the Planning Board in a letter dated Nov. 20.

RELATED CONTENT: Marlborough City Council votes down Verizon cell tower

Wray said the balloon tests should not be taken into consideration because they were conducted during bad weather, and the balloon was flown at the wrong height.

“At a ground-site elevation of 478 feet, at a tower height of potentially 175 feet, this tower will be 115 feet above the highest point of the hill’s ridgeline of 538 feet,” Wray told the Planning Board.

Both Wray and Follette Street resident Taze Barlar said that the current coverage in that area is sufficient, with no drop in coverage.

“The nature of our neighborhood will be drastically changed due to such a commercial installation,” said Barlar in a letter to the Planning Board. 

Barlar argued that the proposed site was on protected forest land under state law that constituted open space on a ridgeline. Barlar said this negated the effect of tree coverage from the ground level “creating a blight and not in the spirit of open space.”

“Such open space cannot be replaced and defines the character of our town,” Barlar said.

According to Fiona Coughlan, Grafton’s town planner, the special permit is now undergoing a 20-day appeal period. Once that ends, the applicant will file the decision with the Worcester County Registry of Deeds and secure building permits. She added that construction will take some time.

In addition, “They will need to take the correct steps to submit their notice of intent to the town for removal of the land from Chapter 61 designation,” she said.

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