Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, July 9, 2010

Money Always Make Ugly Pretty

I am sure one hundred and fifty years ago there were some folks around the country that were pretty freaked out by the telegraph poles and wires being thrown up all over the countryside.  Yes, I am sure that was the case, after all, there had never been anything like them before, and look what they were doing to the view.

It just wasn't natural.

Today, the same is being said about cell phone towers, and I agree, they are homely things, but they aren't built for beauty, they are built for function.  Like the  towers that carry high voltage lines for our electricity, they are built for form, not grace.  Yes, there are stealth towers hidden inside of church steeples, and the like, but this concerns towers right there in the open for the world to see.

Would I want one outside my window?  Depends.  Am I getting paid for it?  Some folks have leases with cell carriers, and they receive a couple of grand each month for letting the tower stand on their property.  For some the cash makes the view that much better.  Locally, the Town of Sturbridge will make approximately a half million to three quarter of a million dollars in a deal with Metro PCS for allowing the cell carrier to erect, and maintain a cell phone tower for twenty years.

Well, the cash is certainly attractive for just allowing a tower to occupy some unused town owned land, and significant enough to adjust the zoning for the area of the tower in order for the tower to be built.

The fly in the cell phone ointment is the Sturbridge Hills Condominium Association.  They say the tower will be unsightly, and lower property values.

Yep.  It will.  And, what's more, they won't get any cash to make their view better.  So, they are fighting the construction of the tower.

Well, that is only expected, and the prospect of earning $500,000 to $700,000 for nothing more than leasing some unused property is incentive enough for the town to fight back.

But here is where it gets interesting.

See, if the a special permit is issued buy the Zoning Board to build the tower, and special considerations are made by the Zoning Board to make the tower happen, then a precedent will have been set.  And, here in the land of hills, at the intersection of two major interstate highways there are people from Stallion Hill to Mount Dan to that may want to earn a little extra cash each month from leasing a piece of their land to a cell phone carrier, but due to zoning restrictions, they have not been able to cash in.

If the town gets a tower, those other folks stand a very good chance of getting one as well.  Precedents are hard to argue with.

The argument that Edward Heywood, the treasurer of the Sturbridge Hills Condominium Association, made won't cut it.

"(The tower) does violence to the towns ambiance."  He also stated it would be an "ugly and intrusive structure".  Cash wins over ambiance most every time.

Violence to our ambiance?  I don't know.   Maybe I have become immune to modern day life, and accept somethings for what they are like electricity, and cell phone signals.  Yes, I do believe the towers are ugly, and that they do affect ones view.  I also believe there are options to explore regarding the view, and compromises are possible, no matter what Metro PCS says.  They are always possible if the parties both want a mutual good end result.

In the meantime, we'll all watch this unfold, and see where it takes us.

And, for those interested in learning more about leasing your property to cell phone carriers click here.  Might as well check out the market.  A town sponsored precedent could just make you some extra cash.

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