A cellphone company has begun the process of building a tower in Whitefield after voters overwhelmingly approved amending the wireless communications facility ordinance at the June 14 election. The Whitefield Board of Selectmen reviewed a letter from Black Diamond Consultants, which is representing U.S. Cellular, on Tuesday, July 5.
The letter states U.S. Cellular’s intention to construct a 190-foot cellphone tower on property off Townhouse Road, and inquired about historic structures in proximity to the tower’s planned location – a first step in receiving the necessary approval to carry out the project.
The project calls for the tower to be located in a 75-by-75-foot, fenced-off compound on property off Townhouse Road, according to a letter from Black Diamond Consultants. A 12-by-20-foot equipment shelter would also be built and located within the compound.
The owner of the property where the tower would be located was not named in the letter.
Selectmen said they would consult with the historical society to determine if there are historical properties that would be impacted by the project on Townhouse Road, and would refer the matter to the planning board.
In a 230-56 vote at the June 14 election, Whitefield voters approved amending the town ordinance governing cellphone towers to increase the allowable height from 120 feet to 199 feet.
The planning board would be responsible for reviewing and approving the project, according to the ordinance. Selectmen hope a new cellphone tower would remedy the dead spots in the Kings Mills area of Townhouse Road which have been a complaint of residents.
In other business, the Whitefield Board of Selectmen renewed the town’s lease with the Coopers Mills Volunteer Fire Department Association for the station in Coopers Mills. Whitefield will pay a “ceremonial” rent of $100 and cover the cost of utilities in accordance with a long-standing agreement between the town and the association.
Renovations to the century-old station, which were completed in the fall, are expected to significantly decrease the station’s utility costs.
The future of net metering for solar installations remains uncertain in Maine; however, it is not deterring solar companies from pursuing power purchase agreements with municipalities for grid-tied solar installations, which are dependent on net metering to be economically viable.
Maine Energy Performance Solutions, a small solar energy company located in Washington, has offered to indemnify Whitefield against future regulatory changes to the net metering system if Whitefield moves forward with installing a solar array to power municipal buildings, a project approved at the annual town meeting.
ReVision Energy previously made a similar indemnification proposal, however, selectmen decided not to move forward with it because there was no indemnification, or protection, in relation to the energy rate.
Richard Simon, a co-owner of Maine Energy Performance Solutions, will attend a future selectmen’s meeting to further discuss his company’s proposal.