Just a few comments in response to Representative Lenes’ “Report From Montpelier” update in last week’s Shelburne News. For those who have not been following this issue very closely, there is a bill (“S.220”) making its way through the Legislature that will likely undermine the town’s ability to have a voice in future cell tower siting applications. While Rep. Lenes’ efforts are certainly appreciated, it’s important to understand the unintended consequences of this bill. Extending the Public Service Board’s (PSB) “preemption” in all telecom tower-siting applications for another three years in exchange for nominal municipal involvement in the process is a misguided compromise. The deck is and has been stacked against a local voice in all PSB cell tower siting matters, and the original statute which is set to expire in July 2014 has served its purpose. Advocating for a three-year extension of the PSB’s preemption regime is not in the town’s best interest. I don’t question the need to enhance Vermont’s telecom infrastructure, and I support better coverage wherever there is a need; however, expanded coverage will happen without PSB preemption. Telecom companies will continue to invest in their Vermont infrastructure, and consumers will continue to have improved cell service. We don’t need another three years of PSB preemption to make this happen. I would encourage anyone who is concerned about having cell towers too close to their homes, and the negative impacts that cell towers will have on Shelburne’s scenic landscape, to let your elected representatives in the House and Senate know by asking that they vote against S.220.
Jaime Heins, Shelburne Planning Commission