Verizon has pulled their petition to place wireless boosters on seven different utility poles in Burlington, citing a collection of provisions the town enacted as unacceptable in order to proceed with the project.
In July, Verizon approached the Board of Selectmen with the proposal of installing wireless signal boosters onto established utility poles at seven different locations in Burlington. The wireless boosters are canister-shaped boxes, 12 inches in diameter and 38 inches high. Verizon has cited gaps in coverage, as well as increased use of the wireless network, as reasons for installing the boosters.
Since then, the board has received complaints from the public about the project, including questioning the necessity of increased coverage, health and safety issues, and concerns about approving the project would be setting a precedent for other companies to install more antennas in the community.
In response to those complaints, the town formed the Small Cells Committee to address the issues and establish a policy concerning the installation of the boosters. The conditions included that no apparatus could be attached to a double-pole, the equipment should be colored like the pole to blend in, and that Verizon would have to go through an annual recertification process.
Verizon took issue with conditions
Daniel Klasnick, an attorney who represented Verizon at the meeting, said that Verizon took exception with some of the conditions, particularly the recertification process, which would charge Verizon a nominal fee to get certified each year.
“I am concerned about the recertification process, I am not authorized by my client to move forward if the recertification fee is part of this board’s approval. We don’t feel that it is consistent with state or federal law. We are concerned about any attempt to impose something that might set a precedent for what we suppose to be an unauthorized fee,” Klasnick said.
Klasnick asked the board to approve the application without the certification fee, arguing that the company had gone through the application process in the appropriate manner before the additional conditions were enacted.
“Verizon has worked with the town very cooperatively, we submitted all the correct policy, seven petitions to install small cell equipment on utility poles in town, we’ve provided details and information on each one, we respectfully request that you approve this, based on the policies that were in place at the time,” Klasnick said.
The board was consistent in their support for the conditions that were put in place by the committee.
“As much as I want to be respectful to the applicant, I want to also be respectful to the committee and the work they have done,” Selectman Chris Hartling said. “I do want to in a sense, stick a flag in the ground [about this issue].”
With the selectmen supporting the conditions set by the committee, Klasnick asked to withdraw the application from the town, effectively tabling any plans for installing the wireless boosters for the time being.