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Planned cell tower sparks static between neighbors.

Byline: Ellie Oleson

OXFORD - A communication tower proposed for a residential neighborhood is pitting neighbor against neighbor.

David M. Manugian, town planner and engineer, said two proposals for communication towers have been brought to town in recent months. While one brought no complaints, the other is extremely controversial.

"The Planning Board approved a cell tower for Verizon on a 150-foot monopole on Wellington Road. No one spoke against the tower, which probably will be built in 2009," Mr. Manugian said. He explained that a "monopole is a straight piece of metal rather than a lattice design."

Plans call for the cell tower to be built approximately 350 feet from the nearest house on land zoned for industrial use, Mr. Manugian said.

A second proposal, from MCF Communications Inc. of North Andover, is to erect a 150-foot monopole at the end of Park Street on residential land owned by Cynthia A. and Michael E. Capuano of 62 Park St.

Mrs. Capuano, 37, a substitute teacher and PTO president at the Alfred M. Chaffee Elementary School, said she has been shocked at the intensity of her neighbors' reactions to the cell tower, and that their concerns are unfounded.

"Verizon needs a tower in this neighborhood. If we all didn't use cell phones, it might not be needed, but it is," Mrs. Capuano said.

"I've been told this tower would be a catastrophe. It's just not true. I would never put my 4-year-old or my 6-year-old in danger, and it hurts that anyone thinks I would."

She said that MCF has done everything the town has asked.

"They had to dig for arrowheads and only found a nail," she said. "They had to look for wood turtle nests, which they found, but the tower will be far enough away not to impact them."

She said that neighbors were concerned that lights on the tower would create light pollution, but that "it is a monopole that is not high enough to need lights. The tower will be in the middle of the woods, where most trees are 100 feet high or higher. You won't even be able to see the tower most of the year."

She said that some neighbors were concerned about noise pollution.

"I was told there will be no buzzing from the tower, and as far as I know, there will be no generator attached. People have been really nasty to me. I've received hate mail."

Mr. Manugian said he is aware that "a number of residents have expressed concern about this tower."

Patricia G. Clarkson of 2 Pond St. said, "There would be a 150-foot tower about 150 feet from my land."

She said that her son, Jeffrey D. Clarkson, and his family also live in the neighborhood. "We're concerned that a cell tower would affect his wife, who is already battling cancer, and their four children under age 12. Our neighborhood is being compromised."

According to the American Cancer Society's Web site at, "cellular phone towers are unlikely to cause cancer" for at least three reasons: radio waves from cell towers have extremely low energy, the wavelength of radio waves is too large to affect individual cells, and "measurements taken around typical cellular phone towers show ground level power densities well below the recommended limits."

However, the society also states that "no human studies have focused specifically on cellular phone towers or even on radio waves," and suggests that "people who are concerned can ask for measurements of radio frequency near cellular phone towers to be sure exposures do not exceed recommended limits."

Mrs. Clarkson was not satisfied with these findings, and said, "Scientific evidence cannot be used on things like this unless it has been studied for 30 years. Cell towers haven't been in existence for 30 years. It could possibly cause cancer."

Mrs. Clarkson said that a cell tower is not only "aesthetically inappropriate," but "microwave emissions could be dangerous." She is also concerned about light and noise pollution, and said "a cell tower would certainly decrease the value of our homes."

She said that more than 20 of her neighbors met on Dec. 13 to discuss the tower and agreed to attend tomorrow's Conservation Commission hearing on the tower to speak out against the tower.

Linda A. Croteau of 4 Pond St. said that she is concerned about wood turtles in Lowe's Pond, which is near the tower site, because shelled reptiles are on the "special concern list" of species.

"I'm afraid of the health risk, the impact on our property values, and it would be a 150-foot eyesore," she said. "It's a beautiful neighborhood. One family shouldn't upset an entire neighborhood."

Mrs. Capuano said she is not trying to upset anyone. "It kills me for them to think I'm trying to hurt them. I'm not. I own three acres. The tower will be in a section of woods I'll never use. There will be a fence around the tower and plantings to make it fit in. It won't destroy anything."

She said that she will likely be paid a monthly fee for allowing the cell tower to be built on her property. "It's still in negotiations. There are just a few kinks to work out."

Benjamin Rieger of Kleinfelder East Inc. of Windsor, Conn., project consultant for MCF, would offer no comment, noting that the project is going through the public hearing process.

Several calls to MCF were not returned. According to its Web site at, MCF has communication towers and wireless antennae sites in Uxbridge, Shrewsbury, Auburn, Northbridge, Webster and Charlton, as well as other communities in Massachusetts and throughout New England.

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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 6, 2009
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