Town leaders like the idea of leasing out two locations in Duxbury – including the top of the Standish Shore water tank – for wireless phone antennas because it could add as much as $42,000 in rent to the town’s coffers annually.
At their meeting Monday night, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to pursue leasing two sites for wireless communications antennas. The locations are the 235 Crescent Street, water tank and 0 Church Street, an NStar utility pole.
Selectmen voted to declare a portion of each property as “surplus...no longer required for public purposes.” For the water tank, the portion is its roof; for the utility pole site, it is part of the land it stands on. The declaration of surplus is needed to allow the town to use the sites under the state’s bidding laws.
Michael Johnson of Tower Resources Management, Inc. of Foxborough explained the proposal, saying that he was hired by AT&T “to handle coverage problems from here to the Cape.” In Duxbury, maps provided by Johnson show that there are gaps in AT&T’s wireless coverage areas along most of Bay Road and Standish Shore and near Cox Corner and Route 139/ Careswell Street. Instead of constructing cell towers or monopoles, Johnson said that installing antennas on existing structures in these areas will boost wireless coverage.
On Church Street, he said there is an existing utility pole that could host an antenna. It would need an 11x16 foot locked equipment shelter on the property. Selectman Shawn Dahlen noted that this town land is part of a 500-foot radius reserved for a future well site. Selectmen did not feel the shed would negatively impact the area.
For the Crescent Street water tank, a series of antennas would sit on top on a tripod mounted in a way that no welding is required. The antennas would be 10 feet above the tank. A 12x20 foot equipment shed is needed there. Johnson said that the antennas could not be seen from the nearest road because there are woods surrounding the tank.
“AT&T is definitely interested” in these sites, he said and would pay $3,000 a month for the water tank site and $500 to $700 a month for the antenna site. This rent increases between 3-4 percent a year, he said.
Other wireless carriers could also mount their antennas atop the water tank as long as there were 10 feet between them.
Johnson said he knew of an individual who had expressed an interest in installing antennas on private property near the water tank but that he would rather work with the town.
“The water tank offers a great solution and no one would really know it was out there,” said Johnson.
Antennas have also been proposed for water tanks in Plymouth and in Pembroke.
Town Manager René Read has had a similar experience with wireless antennas in Hanson, locating a monopole at the town’s fire station.
By voting to declare por- tions of these sites as surplus, selectmen paved the way for town meeting to discuss the proposal. Read explained this vote was just the beginning.
"It's a multi-step process," he said.
Read reserved two warrant articles for the antennas' sites and said the town will issue a request for proposals for the antennas. The projects will be reviewed by the Zoning Board of Appeals because they require a special permit. The ZBA will place conditions on the leases, such as requiring that there will remain space on the tank for the fire department's repeater antennas, which are currently there. The lease is expected to run for 20 years, which is the standard time period for cellular leases, Read said.