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Letter: Lenox wireless zoning bylaw is too important to not get it right

To the editor: For nearly two years, residents have been asking the Lenox Planning Board to meet with an independent telecommunications attorney who specializes in wireless zoning bylaws to site cell towers correctly.

The Planning Board has refused.

Town Manager Chris Ketchen says he is willing to allocate resources for the specialized legal advice required to provide clarity and expertise when creating the most durable bylaw for residents. The caveat, however, is that the Planning Board needs to request it, and after 21 months they have not.

Planning Board member Jim Harwood warned board members last fall that if the bylaw vote fails, it is because the board didn’t do the one thing the residents asked them to do: to meet with a specialized, independent telecommunications attorney. The bylaw did indeed fail. Recently, Planning Board Chairman Tom Delasco suggested the board speak with one of these attorneys. That excellent idea was again rejected.

Some Planning Board members feel the Lenox municipal attorney is adequate despite the fact he simply does not have the necessary experience in writing or defending wireless bylaws. Telecommunications law is a very specific form of law, and Lenox residents deserve specialized legal expertise. As the proposed wireless bylaw stands now, there are numerous issues. Definitions in the proposed Lenox bylaw do not match Federal Communications Commission definitions, and the new application content requirement is severely lacking. No one is protected with basic shortcomings like these.

Residents have proposed a solution to move forward. For $8,500, Lenox planners an hire an attorney who has written over 6,000 wireless zoning bylaws to get the best bylaw for both small cell and macro cell towers that are up for vote at the town meeting this May. Experienced telecommunications attorneys write bylaws and deal with tower litigation every single day, so everyone can feel confident the best eyes are on the bylaw.

This lawyer can keep Lenox out of expensive and divisive litigation, and that is something everyone can and should get behind. It is an investment in the town that is worth making.

Laura Turzo, Lenox

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