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Cell Tower Stoppage Details are Emerging

Thursday, June 02, 2011
Written by Webmaster

By Robert Levin rlevin@mdislander.com 
Courtesy Mount Desert Islander

BAR HARBOR — The halting of efforts by AT&T Wireless to build a cell phone tower on the Kitteridge Brook Road followed the discovery of deed restrictions that seemed poised to present a significant roadblock to the project.

That information, along with concerted protests from those living near the proposed project site, caused AT&T officials to change course, project attorney Barry Hobbins told the planning board May 18.

Mr. Hobbins went “all the way to the top” of AT&T to convince the company to look for a different location for the tower, he said. He explained that it was clear to him that the process before the planning board was going to be too long, contentious, costly and emotional to be worthwhile.

“It was obvious to me, having permitted scores and scores of sites … that this was going to be a challenging site,” Mr. Hobbins said. “This community, with respect, is a very educated community, very cognizant of certain issues.”

Mr. Hobbins asked the board to table the application for the Kitteridge Brook Road tower until mid-August, so AT&T can execute a “good faith, diligent effort to find a new location” for the tower. Board members voted 3-0 to table the application.

The residents of the area surrounding the proposed project are “very worthy opponents,” he said. “They’re very dedicated, and have provided, unfortunately for the applicant, some very good information,” he said.

Attorney Alison King, representing a number of Kitteridge Brook Road residents, presented the new information to the planning board in a May 9 letter. According to her research, resident Richard Taylor, who hopes to lease a portion of his property to AT&T to build the tower, has already subdivided his property more than his original deed allowed. A lease arrangement would be considered a subdivision.

While Mr. Taylor and several of his closest neighbors changed their deeds in 1985, other road residents of Kitteridge Brook Road closer to Route 102 were not included and did not change theirs. Thus, Mr. King concludes, their easements would be illegally overburdened by further subdivision on Mr. Taylor’s land, meaning that Mr. Taylor could not grant AT&T the right-of-way to use the road.

AT&T officials must have seen the deed information as a roadblock, Ms. King said. “I think what they saw was, there’s enough here to hold this up in court.”

The project is slated to be taken up by the planning board again on Aug. 17. It is unclear how the board might proceed if, in fact, AT&T returns at that time with a different site in mind.