LENOX — The Lenox Planning Board is continuing work on a bylaw proposal to regulate wireless communications facilities such as free-standing, full-power cell towers, like the one at Lenox Fit on Pittsfield Road, or proposed low-power antennas on buildings like the Curtis.
A separate bylaw would cover small facilities on utility poles on town rights of way, such as one approved by the Select Board for West Street near Tanglewood in February 2019, as allowed by the Federal Communications Commission.
At a Tuesday night meeting, board Chairwoman Pam Kueber said the bylaw review stems from a consultant’s advice that the town’s current wireless communications bylaw does not comply with FCC regulations. The board has been considering the issue for two months.
“In the current bylaw, the restrictions on locations of wireless facilities could be interpreted by a court to be an effective prohibition of wireless services within the town, thus violating federal law,” said Anthony Lepore, of CityScape Consultants.
Lepore was asked whether the proposed bylaws would apply to the potential Curtis installation.
“They certainly address the potential for that project by creating a set of standards by which a project like that would have to be approved and then constructed,” he said.
Kueber said most Lenox residents believe that there is not adequate cellphone coverage in some locations. “We wanted to see what we could do with the bylaw to ensure we have not only a compliant bylaw, but one that allows for getting service into Lenox in the appropriate manner.”
The current bylaw limits sites for cell facilities to three or four parcels in Lenox, Planning Board member Jim Harwood said. That excludes 99 percent of the town. “Wherever you put them, they need to be safely set back” from residences.
According to Planning Board member Lauryn Franzoni, the bylaws would allow the town “to create some guardrails and controls so that we’re not just having to accept anything that the federal regulations, as they exist today, might bring forth.”
The bylaw proposals, when completed, will be presented at an informational forum for comment, potentially in early September, followed by a formal public hearing.
“The November town meeting is a possible time to bring this before the town,” Franzoni said.