Wed, Nov 27, 2013 12:30 PM
KILLINGTON - Elizabeth Kohler, an attorney representing
AT&T, attended the Town Meeting last Tuesday, Nov. 19, to
answer questions and address concerns regarding plans to construct
a 140-foot cell tower on Brad Mead Drive.
Killington Town Manager, Seth Wood, relayed emails from local
residents Sandra Deitch, Marty and Jane Post, and Jan
Rich, all of whom oppose the building of the tower. Their main
concerns included health issues, aesthetic disturbance, and
negatively impacting resale value of properties.
For those with significant aesthetic concerns, local resident
Vince Wynn suggested installing 'Distributed Antenna Systems'
(DAS), where a single antenna radiating at high power is replaced
by a group of smaller low-power antennas to cover the same
Kohler refuted the capability of DAS systems in rural areas. "DAS
systems supplement service in urban areas, but where there is
significant area to cover, especially in Vermont, DAS is not a
Killington Resort also communicated concern. While the resort is
in favor of improved cell service, it is concerned about resale
value (they are the largest landowner in the area) and given the
proximity of the tower to Pico, worried about the disturbance to
natural beauty. Killington Resort suggested a less obtrusive
design, and taking a more tactical approach.
Faced with specific concerns regarding impact to views from Deer
Leap and the Appalachian Trail, Kohler cited the results of the
balloon test, where a balloon is floated 90 feet above the property
in order to understand a structure's visual impact. She said, "From
the Appalachian Trail, the site will not be visible for most of the
year." Admitting that the site is visible from Deer Leap, she said
they are under the process of evaluating a Monopine; a cell tower
designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape.
Regarding health concerns, Kohler said, "(This development) is
well within 1% of FCC standard, it is very low." She added,
"This structure will not involve microwave transformers which can
have slightly higher radio frequency."
Kohler doesn't believe the site would affect property values,
"I have commissioned a lot of studies that show proximity to towers
does not have an adverse affect on property values."
Selectman Bernie Rome pointed out that there had been no
confirmation from AT&T whether cell coverage would actually be
improved, or an explanation given as to why this
location had been chosen. "For me to support this tower, I would
want to know that there would be increased coverage for
In response, Kohler said, "The primary driver in the construction
of the tower is customer complaints. Customers want phones to work,
and customers drive all decisions at AT&T." Adding, "Vermont
has residents who are dependent on technology, residents who work
from home, residents who depend on tourism."
The first of multiple sites planned for Killington, this site will
be predominantly for improving coverage. Kohler explained, "It
does add additional capacity, but improving density is the main
priority, not capacity."
AT&T engineer, Sohail Usmani, explained why Brad Mead Drive
had been chosen, "There is a small geographic ring where there is a
gap in coverage, the existing site is the center of a void." He
noted, " If you are able to make a call, that doesn't mean all
users can." Usmani went on to say there would be an increase of
800% in data phones over the next few years. "This tower will help
cope with that demand."
Undecided, the Selectboard asked Kohler to return to the Town
Meeting on Dec. 5 with an 'aesthetic mitigation'
plan, and an 'assured coverage with citizens' plan.