On August 20, the Northeast Neighbors (NEN) voted to oppose the placement of a 69-foot, 6-inch cell tower in their environs, saying that AT&T, who proposed the structure, “fails to show that it identified the project site that is least intrusive or that minimizes the impact on the surrounding community,” among other things.
The tower, taller than current code allows, is intended by AT&T to provide service to a region of Salem that currently gets poor indoor reception. Because of the way the area has been developed, the site AT&T proposed, on the US Market property (675 Center Street NE,) would also be closer to residences and businesses than city code currently grants.
Code requires cell towers to be 300-feet from residences and businesses; the proposed tower would be just 55 feet from such properties. The tower would also be higher than the 35-feet specified by code.
AT&T requested the City of Salem make code exceptions, “variances,” for the tower, arguing that the service is needed and that there is no other workable site. At an August 14 hearing the City recommended the variances be approved, with the stipulation that the provider followed ten conditions.
NEN, which hadn’t had time to meet prior to the hearing, asked for extra time for its members to consider the matter and take a vote.
The neighbors concluded, among five objections, that AT&T hadn’t fully investigated its options, such as a less-intrusive placement of the tower in Jason Lee Cemetery or on Salem Hospital’s rooftop, where other antennas are already sited. They also argued that the cell carrier failed to submit “any evidence showing that the project will not be detrimental to neighborhood property.”
Attorney Scott Fewel, who is acting as hearings officer in the matter, will ultimately make the decision.