The Kent Town Board voted on Tuesday, April 16, 3-to-2 to approve Homeland Towers’ proposal to build a cell phone town at its highway garage on the corner of Route 301 and Smokey Hollow Court. Councilmen John Greene and Louis Tartaro voted against the resolutions.
The cell tower on Smokey Hollow Court is part of a seven-tower comprehensive plan that the town board unanimously approved previously. The town owns the parcels of four of the sites approved for towers, including the town complex and the recycling center which had leases approved in February. The fourth site, Huestis Park, will be considered further in the future.
The final public hearing for the Smokey Hollow Tower was held at the April 16 meeting. There residents again pleaded their case as to why the town should consider an alternative site. The lawyer representing the residents was unable to attend the hearing.
Peter Bruenn warned the board. “If you vote yes, you will leave us no alternative but to take you to federal court.”
Tartaro said that he voted against the resolutions because of how close the tower would be to people’s houses. “This will have a negative effect on their quality of life,” he said.
Councilman Michael Tierney, who voted in favor of the proposal, said that he did so because he believed it was in the best interest of the town.
“For those who say that we would not vote something if it was happening outside of our homes, need to remember that I approved a sewer treatment to be built five houses away from mine,” he said. “This is about what is best for the community as a whole.”
A primary reason for pursuing the tower installation is the improved telecommunications that it would provide to the emergency service workers.
“The Route 301 area was of great concern,” said Councilwoman Penny Osborn. “There are dead zones in that area.”
She continued, “As chairwoman of the cell tower committee I know how important [the towers] are to the community.
Osborn said that while reluctantly began pursuing the towers five years ago, she has a much greater appreciation for them now and stated that some of the concerns that were expressed by others were “misguided fears.”
Town Supervisor Kathy Doherty also voted in favor of the proposal.
As supervisor, I have to make decisions based upon facts that will benefit the residents,” said Doherty. “For the safety of my constituents, including my first responders I am voting yes.”
The town will receive $2000 a month in rent from each cellphone company that puts an antenna on the tower.