It only took a few days for the quiet life at Summerfield Farms to be threatened by “the abominable tower”–a 160-foot cellular service tower rising from a commercial property next to the upscale housing development in the Town of Lancaster.
Families in the subdivision off William Street feel the hulking metal structure is a threat to their suburban way of life, their health, and their property values.
Jean Dillon said the tower is simply out of place, “It is a beautiful neighborhood. There’s no telephone poles, no wires anywhere, everything is underground. So this is kind of unusual for the aesthetics of this neighborhood.”
The homeowners believe if their objections could have been heard before the tower was approved by the Lancaster Town Board, it might have made a difference. The tower was okayed by the board in September, 2017.
Roger Tremblay says town officials should have considered how the cellular transponder might affect their health, “If they would have gave us any type of real notice, I think the whole neighborhood would have been down there and there is no way they would have put that up.”
But Lancaster Town Supervisor Johanna Coleman said, the town has little ability to prevent a cell tower from going up in areas where service may be spotty, and federal law does not allow health effects to be a deterrent when placing a cell tower.
Coleman said government regulators consider cellular service a public utility, “The town really has [no] ability to deny an applicant where the applicant has demonstrated a need for a particular location for a cell tower because of a gap in coverage.”
Despite postings on the town’s website of public hearings, and notices in the local weekly newspaper, the homeowners, such as Mary Beth Aquiline, believe the town should have been more on such an important issue.
“We should have been given notification via mail, we should have been told about the special use meeting. We did not know about it, so none of us showed up, unfortunately, at that special use meeting, public meeting, in June of last year.”
The neighbors said it might be too late for them, but they want the town board to revise town ordinances so homeowners get more opportunities for their input.