Deerfield Planning Board OKs site plan for cell tower extension


Staff Writer

Published: 04-06-2024 10:56 PM

DEERFIELD — Plans to extend the cell tower in South Deerfield by an additional 20 feet can move forward to the Zoning Board of Appeals, following unanimous approval of the site plan from the Planning Board last week.

The Planning Board gave AT&T approval to move forward with its proposal, which will see the cell tower behind the South Deerfield Fire District raised by an additional 20 feet, from 85 feet to 105 feet, to accommodate the company’s equipment, as well as the installation of a backup generator.

Verizon already uses the tower behind the Fire District and AT&T is looking to co-locate its equipment there. Verizon leases the space from the district and AT&T would sign its own lease to house its equipment there.

“Co-location is obviously encouraged. Towns don’t want more than one tower where it’s not necessary,” said attorney Edward Pare, who is representing the company. “It’s a good-sized lot, it’s going to have a pretty low impact, except for the 20-foot extension, which will probably be unnoticable once it’s up and people get used to driving by.”

The Planning Board had few questions for AT&T, other than if cell service for customers would be better in town and what the timeline looked like for construction.

Pare said AT&T customers can expect much stronger service once the company’s project is complete. He noted they have to go through the ZBA and building permit process, but once that is done they may be able to finish it by the end of the year or in early 2025.

The only member of the public present at the hearing was South Deerfield Fire District Chief William Swasey, who voiced full support for the project, as it will help boost cellular signals for his firefighters and may also help rescue efforts for lost hikers. The project will also bring in some extra money to the district through the lease.

“It was our intent in 2017, when we installed that tower, to go up an additional 20 feet,” Swasey noted. “It’s going to bring additional revenue into the district. … We’re 100% in favor of this project moving forward.”

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AT&T is expected to come before the ZBA on April 11.