U.S. Cellular drops Blue Hill tower plan

BLUE HILL — Citing “controversy, expense and litigation,” U.S. Cellular has dropped its plans to build an 80-foot cell phone tower on property belonging to resident Fern Leach.

Attorney Richard Trafton of the Auburn firm Trafton, Matzen, Belleau & Frenette sent the town of Blue Hill a letter Nov. 3 advising that client U.S. Cellular was surrendering its permit.

“Unfortunately, the subject matter of the permit became embroiled in controversy with some residents of Blue Hill filing two legal actions in Maine Superior Court,” Trafton stated. “The controversy, expense and delays caused by this litigation have caused my client to decide not to proceed with the permitted development of a telecommunications facility.”

The Blue Hill Planning Board initially issued a permit for the tower on Aug. 31, 2015, as well as a revised permit on May 9, 2016. Leach is a Planning Board member but recused himself from agendas involving U.S. Cellular.

Meanwhile, in September 2015, Blue Hill attorney John Steed appealed the board’s decision on behalf of four residents.

The town of Blue Hill has an appeals board, but its Wireless Communication Facility Ordinance dictates that Superior Court hears appeals.

Steed represented abutter Dr. Richard Hines and residents Charlotte Clews, James Church and Daune Lord.

Steed had cited a number of issues in the appeal, including that the town’s ordinance states any tower built in Blue Hill must provide space for all the major communication carriers. The proposed tower was only designed for two carriers.

“We’re pleased at the decision,” said Steed via email.

The tower had been proposed for a parcel on South Street.

Several residents, including parents at The Bay School, were worried about the effects of radiation emanating from the tower. One parent started a petition asking s U.S. Cellular to relocate the tower 1,500 feet from any school. In addition to the Bay School, the area has the newly relocated Harbor School as well as a YMCA preschool behind Tradewinds Marketplace.

The American could not reach Leach for comment before press time.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.

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