The first post about last Tuesday's Planning Board meeting will deal with the board's ongoing review of projects before them. The first of those is Verizon's proposal to locate wireless communication antennas on Providence Hall, 119 Columbia Street.
During the continuation of the public hearing on this proposal, there was a new voice--that of attorney Andrew Campanelli, the principal of anticelltowerlawyers.com. Campanelli was representing twenty property owners along Warren Street who will be impacted by the installation of communications equipment on Providence Hall. Campanelli argued that Verizon had failed to establish that there were gaps in coverage requiring the installation of antennas at this site. He also maintained that Verizon had not done adequate alternate site analysis to establish that the proposed site was the least intrusive remedy. He warned the installation would have an adverse aesthetic impact on neighboring properties and would reduce property value. He asserted, "Homeowners are in the best position to assess adverse impact," and alleged, "Verizon has deliberately omitted any imagery from homes that will be most impacted." He called the proposed installation "a significant negative impact that cannot be overcome."
The subject of notification of residents impacted by the proposed towers was raised, as it has been in the past. Michael Colberg, one of the homeowners on Warren Street, said he did not receive notification. A single letter of notification went to Providence Hall and was posted inconspicuously on a community bulletin board. Colberg noted that not all residents impacted were able to attend the Zoom meetings or even to access information about it on the internet. "Bliss Towers residents are muzzled," Colberg stated, "because the computer room is closed [due to COVID-19]." To remedy the problem of notification, it was determined that Verizon would post a sign outside Providence Hall. Scott Olson, the attorney for Verizon, requested that the City provide the content of the notice. Such a sign has not yet been erected.
Planning Board member John Cody, who lives on lower Allen Street, spoke of his own experience of not getting a signal in his house. He asked why Verizon hadn't considered putting the antennas on the Verizon building in the 400 block of Union Street, attesting, "The signal was great when the antenna was on Union." Cody also suggested the Harney Tea building at the north end of Second Street, near the landfill, a location he said would have no impact on residential properties. Olson seemed to agree to explore those possibilities.
The public hearing on the Verizon proposal will continue on Tuesday, March 9.
The Colarusso review, which had been on the agenda, was put on pause because the Planning Board had received the previous day a nine-page letter from Colarusso attorney John Privitera, and the board needed time to digest its content.
The board then turned its attention to the "Depot District" project proposed by the Galvan Foundation.
Parking continues to be a concern with this project. Bill Huston, who lives in the neighborhood, did his own parking study, which he submitted to Dan Kent of the Galvan Foundation and to the Planning Board. At the meeting on Tuesday, Charles Gottlieb, attorney for the project, acknowledged that "parking will have to be addressed further" and agreed to do a "more robust parking study." Still he argued, "As you add parking to the site, it means you will lose green space and neighborhood character." He stressed, "Our intent is to keep as much green space as possible."
Kent told the board he and his team had met with "leadership at the Fire Department" to discuss the impact of two large residential buildings on the street. The Central Fire Station, of course, is at Seventh and Washington streets, with all the truck bays accessing Seventh Street. The path the firetrucks take to get to most of the rest of the city is past the two proposed buildings. Fire Chief Tony DeMarco was part of the Zoom meeting and told the Planning Board that the Fire Department's primary concern was parking. There was concern about fire apparatus getting through if cars were parked on both sides of the street, and there was concern about the possibility of double parking. He did say, however, "It sounds like a lot of that stuff is being addressed."
The public hearing on the proposed "Depot District" is scheduled for Tuesday, March 9.
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