Vassalboro Planning Board
Minutes of May 4, 2010

Planning Board: Virginia Bracket, George Gould, Jay Nutting
CEO: Paul Mitnik,
Public: Michael Willette, Diane Plante, Elizabeth Davidson, Paul Morneau, Linda Butterfield, Jodi Smith, Russell Clement Jr., Norma Gilman, Susan Linscott, Jody Welch, Bernie Welch, Rose Spaulding, Mary Grow
The meeting opened at 7:00 PM.

Review of April 6 Minutes: The April 6 Minutes were approved subject to changing Eric Colby’s name to Eric Albee and an additional typographical correction ( Gould / Nutting 3-0).

The letter dated April 26, 2010 from Richard Baker of DEP giving preliminary approval of the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance text was discussed briefly. The letter said that DEP would approve the text as written but noted one inconsistency with sections 12 (C) (1) (b) and 12 (D) (1). Ginny did not believe that this was an inconsistency and Paul concurred with that opinion.

Michael Willette
Major Site Review
Cell Tower
Tax Map 7, Lot 12A

Ginny started by explaining the process for approving permits. The application is first checked for completeness. Then the application is reviewed for compliance with the performance standards of the ordinance. It is during the review of the performance criteria that the Board allows the public to speak.

Ginny began the process for checking with completeness of the application. Michael answered some questions by the Board. Boring samples will reveal the type of ground and the conditions for the foundation of the tower. No buildings are proposed for the tower compound, only the tower itself. Small sheds may eventually be built within the compound by each communication company. The compound is a 60 X 80 foot fenced area around the tower and is 400 feet back from the Bog Rd. Ginny asked about the state driveway entrance permit. Paul indicated that the road there is a town road and a permit from the state is not needed. Only that portion of Bog Rd from Webber Pond Rd to Rte 32 is a state road.

The application was checked for completeness. The site plan was first checked and the other application requirements confirmed from a check list. The certification of incorporation was present, and the lease agreement confirmed title, right, and interest to the property. The location map was provided on a town tax map; and the soils density map was presented. The names and addresses of the abutters and the copy of the letter were provided. It was noted that Norma Gilman’s name was incorrectly indicated as Norma Glidden on the abutting property at 342 Bog Rd. The application was determined to be complete by the Board (Gould / Nutting 3-0).

Ginny then open the floor for public comment. Diane Plante, who is an abutter to the property living in the brick home at 352 Bog Rd commented first. Diane indicated that their property had historical significance as did the cemetery on her property. She was concerned that the cell tower would result in their property values dropping. The cell tower could also make their property more difficult to sell in the future.

Diane indicated that they sold two acres of land from their property to Colleen Leathers and Clifford Pooler under the impression that Vassalboro had a minimum lot size of two acres. The cell tower would probably not be happening there if they had sold them less land. She thought that they may be putting both a mobile home and a stick built structure on the property. Paul indicated that as far as he knew, only one residential structure was going on the property but two would still be legal without tripping the subdivision law.

Diane asked how far the tower would be from her home. Michael responded it would be 560 feet from her home and 400 feet from the cemetery.

Jody Welch is also an abutter with 130 acres of land. She commented that her concern came from the Plante’s home nomination to the National Historic Register and the impact that the cell tower would have on this.

Michael Willette then presented two forms to the Board. One was a National Park Service form (620 Form) of the Plante home (so called the Dutton – Small House on the form) indicating its application to the National Historic Places registry. Michael indicated that as part of the required NEPA Phase I permitting he is required to have review from historical significance. Ginny commented that Vassalboro’s Site Review Ordinance does not have this requirement in the performance standards. Ginny noted that this home is the only home in Vassalboro on the historic register.

The second form was an affidavit from a radio frequency expert, Dinesh Dasani, and engineer from T-Mobile. This indicated that the cell tower is necessary to have adequate and reliable coverage of T-mobile service to Vassalboro, since there is a “dead area” in the proposed location. A computer model was used to determine the location. The affidavit also indicated that the radio frequency exposure levels will be substantially below the maximum allowable health and safety standards established by the FCC, American National Standards Institute, and the National Council of Radiation Protection.

Susan Linscott commented that why put the tower in a historic place? What is the rationale for this decision? Michael indicated that the computer modeling studies by T-Mobile indicated that it must be within a one-half mile radius of a precise area. T-Mobile wanted it closer to the Vassalboro Community School.

Jodi Smith lives at 352 Bog Rd and is an abutter. Her main concern was the health issue from radiation from cell towers, in particular to children. She indicated that studies have shown that children near cell towers are more susceptible to brain tumors. Ginny indicated that the Board would need reliable sources for this information in order to accept it. Jay indicated that the studies would also have to be peer reviewed. Jodi’s concern also stemmed from the close proximity of the cell tower to the community school. Ginny indicated that she was not aware of any connection between radio waves and health issues and you have to be very careful about what you accept as factual from the web (internet).

Susan Linscott commented on similar health concerns and the issue of closeness to the school. George asked how far the tower would be from the school. Michael said 1500 feet. Ginny indicated that the Board cannot guarantee the future based upon a decision and the decision could not be based upon risk. Jay indicated that we would have to change the ordinance to base a decision on risk. Susan said that the entrance of the driveway to the tower is in a dangerous location.

Norma Gilman who is also an abutter commented next. She said that she never received proper notification as an abutter. Norma asked about lighting on the tower. Michael said that the FAA will not require lighting since the proposed site of the tower is far enough away from the closest airport so that lighting is not required. Norma said that the driveway entrance was at a dangerous spot on a curve of the Bog Rd. She cited that 350 feet is needed in the sight distance of the driveway from oncoming traffic as indicated in the Building Permit Ordinance.

Paul said that those provisions only apply to residential structures. The driveway entrance to Clifford Pooler and Colleen Leathers was checked and met this criteria. However the cell tower driveway was never checked for sight distance. Paul indicated that Section X (1) (a) of the performance standards for a major project in the Site Review Ordinance says that a proposed driveway must be designed to meet the Maine DOT standards to the maximum extent possible. Paul thought that the latter language could give the Board so flexibility in applying this standard. Ginny was of the opinion that they needed the sight distance information to make an informed decision.

Norma asked about the possibility of the tower falling on someone else’s property. Michael said the tower was designed to implode or fall on itself.

Elizabeth Davidson who is not an abutter, commented that the section 106 Historic Preservation review was very important and was interested in their feedback. Michael said that the historic review doesn’t start until local approval is met. The FCC addresses historic concerns.

Due to the lack of the sight distance information for the driveway, the Board voted to table the decision until the next meeting when that information can be presented (Gould / Nutting 3-0).

Paul Morneau
Expiration of Subdivision Permit
Mystic Ridge Subdivision
Tax Map 12, Lot 16

Paul Morneau was on the agenda for consideration of revocation of his subdivision permit which was permitted on March 15, 2005. Section VI (E) of Vassalboro’s Subdivision Ordinance states that “failure to complete substantial construction of the subdivision within five years of the date of approval shall render the plan null and void.”
Paul said that the unusual circumstances that occurred for this subdivision is the reason for the road not being constructed to standards. He had to undergo the defense of a series of lawsuits regarding the Planning Board approval of the project. The wet weather the last couple of years has delayed the building of the road.

Ginny explained that subdivision approvals now undergo much more scrutiny due to the issues with non-compliance in recent subdivision approvals. Most of the issues have been with substandard roads. Performance guarantees are now a requirement for subdivisions with roads. Even though the Board is sympathetic to his situation, our attorney advised that we must revoke the permit after five years, if no substantial progress has been made with construction of the subdivision.

Paul Mitnik recommended that Paul pursue a performance guarantee that would not allow selling any lots until the road is built to standards and approved by the Town. The road could be built in stages, the first stage being up to lot 3. Since Paul indicated that he has the gravel and equipment to build the road, Paul Mitnik thought that this option might be better suited than putting up money or a bond.

The subdivision permit was revoked (3-0) by the signing of a document which will be recorded in the Registry of Deeds, as required by Vassalboro’s Subdivision Ordinance.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00.