UPDATE: Verizon Wireless Proposed Cell Antenna For Norwich Green

Selectboard To Decide November 8

Although no final action was taken at its October 25 meeting, the Selectboard did not object to the Verizon Wireless proposal to place a cell antenna on the Norwich Green, near the Marion Cross School. No public comments, for or against, the antenna were made. In response to questions by Board members, the Verizon Wireless representative said, based on the meeting video at CATV8, that the improved service will be very localized, no trees would need trimming for the installation, and a "minimal" payment to the Town was likely. No information was provided about the proposed or ‘going rate’ of payment.

As a legal matter, the Selectboard is being asked to grant an easement to use Town land for the pole and antenna. It is NOT obligated to grant the easement. Once granted, Verizon Wireless does not need DRB approval and residents are barred from participating in the perfunctory PUC 'certificate of public good' approval process. The November 8 Selectboard meeting is likely the last opportunity for the public and the Town to weigh in on the antenna. 

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To editorialize briefly, this is a cookie-cutter installation for Verizon Wireless. Whether the cookie fits here, Verizon Wireless has not made that case except to say that service will improve for a limited area. To be fair, hundreds, if not thousands of these small cell antenna on utility poles are in operation in the United States, and Verizon Wireless has received nearly a dozen approvals from the Vermont PUC in 2017. However, based on the feedback I received, the concerns of residents include noise from the equipment and RF emissions affecting children who play on the Green during recess. The State has no design criteria for adding antenna up to 10 feet in height which the statute calls a “de minimis modification”. Also unknown is whether this is a one-off proposal or whether VTel and AT&T may someday want to place antenna on the Green, on that pole or different poles.
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