A plan by Verizon to build an 80-foot cell phone tower on New Lane in West Tisbury will go to the The Martha’s Vineyard Commission for review.
At a public hearing Thursday, the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals voted to refer the plan to the MVC as a development of regional impact (DRI). It will mark the first cell tower review for the regional commission.
Verizon has applied for a special permit from the zoning board for the tower, which it plans to build on leased property owned by Robert Doane off New Lane.
Verizon spokesman Carl Gehring said the tower is needed to boost service in town.
“What you have now is not sufficient to handle the loading and data capabilities; we’re trying to provide for proper service,” he said.
Options for the tower include a monopine facility (a fake tree) or a so-called stealth pole. Mr. Gehring said the monopine allows for other carriers to use the tower in addition to Verizon Wireless. The stealth pole, a simple metal pole, only allows for one carrier.
The public hearing was well attended by neighbors seeking information, and the board received numerous letters from abutters with a variety of opinions.
“We...vehemently disapprove for the construction of a cell tower contiguous to our property,” Nancy and Dudley Eppel wrote. “We encourage the board to disapprove this project”
“All of us have found Verizon cell service to be perfectly adequate in our neighborhood,” New Lane resident Virginia Jones wrote. “However if the facility is to be located in the designated and currently proposed location, I will not object (as if it would not do me any good) however I see no need for any such facility and feel that Verizon’s money would be better spent improving the quality of the lines past our houses.”
A letter signed by about 20 abutters urged the board to approve the project to improve service.
West Tisbury resident Glenn Hearn, who signed the group letter, attended the meeting.
“I think people in the neighborhood are very fortunate to get Verizon’s attention,” he said. “We certainly need it. At my house we have sparse coverage . . . I think it’s a perfect spot for the density of houses around here.”
Board Tucker Hubbell said deciding between the monopine and stealth pole would be difficult.
“Every single one of us, when Carl first came in, we all flipped out and said we don’t want that ugly tree, that’s ridiculous,” Mr. Hubbell said. “We’re caught between the ugliness of the fake tree but the fact that the tree gives us the most benefit if we’re going to have a cell tower here in town . . . this one at 80 feet provides potentially two more carriers besides Verizon and has the best capacity.”
In the end, the board voted to refer the project to the commission for review; the board will ask the commission to let the town decide which type of pole to use.