Business Owner Speaks Out Against Proposed Cell Phone Tower in City

by Timothy W. Scee II

Special to N
Published March 2,

—  The owner of a 32-year-old city business told members of the Watertown City Planning Board Tuesday that a proposed cellular tower, which could be erected near his property, may hurt both his and others’ businesses because of a potential “obstruction” of view. 

Chester F. Gray, who operates the Watertown Health & Racquet Club, 431 Eastern Blvd., said that while a report confirmed the tower’s construction would be “minimally evasive” to the environment, it may not yield similar results for his business.  

“The one big picture window that we have looks right on that alley where the tower would be and there’s nothing really pretty,” Gray said.  

The 104-foot tower, expected to be built at 491 Eastern Blvd., would be 100 feet wide on each side and enclosed with a chain link fence.  

“A monopole tower is just the uniform or tapered type of tower, it doesn’t have guy-wires and its not the lattice type tower that you see with steel,” Michael E. Cusack, an attorney who represented St. Lawrence Seaway Cellular Partnership, said.  

The Planning Board said a special use permit would need to be given, as the tower would be classified as a public utility. 

“I would ask you not to hurry with the recommendation because I think there’s more to look at,” he told the Planning Board.  

“Public utilities are allowed in all zoning districts, from Residence A all the way up, but it also requires approval of the City Council after a public hearing and that’s a special use permit,” City Planning and Development Coordinator Kenneth A. Mix said.  

The site plan review was approved by the Planning Board and will be sent to the Watertown City Council for a public hearing and and vote. 

In other business, after plans to build a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise at 440 State St. were sent back to the developer in September 2010 by the Watertown City Planning Board due to zoning issues, its members approved the revised site plan review Tuesday.  

Robert C. Abbott, Jr., an architect who represents ESW Realty, LLC, said most of the concerns, including sanitary flow, sidewalks and paving made by the Planning Board, were fixed except for a traffic signal design and installation modification.   

“The only thing that we haven’t really had the chance to get into, because they’re not very detailed, is the traffic signal and intersection modifications, the technical part of it,” Abbot said. 

An untimely memo left the developer little time to review the Planning Board’s comments regarding the traffic light design, according to the architect.  

The board unanimously approved the plans, which will be presented to the Watertown City Council for final approval.  

Construction is expected to begin this spring with the store opening by summer.

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