AT&T proposes cell tower at old Pontoosuc Woolen Mill

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PITTSFIELD — A historic mill site soon could make way for a more modern amenity.

AT&T Mobility New England proposes building a 150-foot cell tower at 20 Keeler St., the historic Pontoosuc Woolen Mill site owned by Blythewood Realty.

The wireless communications company says the facility would provide needed service in the northern section of the city, yet the proposal already has sent waves of discontent through the lakeside community.

John and Mary Boyle Dickson said in a letter to the editor that the facility would be "an eyesore so close to a residential neighborhood, within full view of Pontoosuc Lake."

The proposal asks the city's planning boards to allow for construction of the 150-foot tower at the site, where current regulations allow for a maximum building height of 90 feet. In order to proceed, the facility requires approvals from the city's Community Development Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, which are scheduled to review the project Nov. 19 and Nov. 20, respectively.

City Planner C.J. Hoss said the city is aware of neighborhood concerns about the project, and officials sought guidance on the issue. Anthony Lepore and his team at CityScape Consultants are reviewing the proposal, he said.

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"This isn't like a typical proposal," Hoss said. "There's limitations on how we regulate wireless communications facilities."

Regulatory decisions about such projects revolve around whether there is a proven need for the wireless infrastructure, he said, and whether there are other ways to achieve those goals.

Hoss said the city might request changes to the project based on the consultants' review, and so board discussions on the project could be delayed to allow consultants more time to analyze the proposal.

The tower will improve coverage in areas of northern Pittsfield, according to the proposal, which cites areas along North Street, Hancock Road, Burke Avenue, Crane Avenue and neighborhoods surrounding the old mill. AT&T also aims to enhance services for public safety uses, the proposal states.

The stand-alone tower would be unmanned, according to the proposal.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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