Antrim Planning Board addresses complaints about lack of cell tower service

The Antrim Planning Board discusses the Pierce Lake cell tower Thursday night.

The Antrim Planning Board discusses the Pierce Lake cell tower Thursday night. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

A  photo of the tree-shaped Pierce Lake cell tower from across the lake in 2022. 

A  photo of the tree-shaped Pierce Lake cell tower from across the lake in 2022.  COURTESY PHOTO BY ART KAUFFMAN

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 03-25-2024 8:31 AM

Modified: 03-28-2024 4:27 PM


A cell tower on Pierce Lake built and operated by Industrial Tower and Wireless (ITW) is causing concern for lakeside residents, who would like the tower taken down if it is unable to provide cellular service to the area surrounding the structure. 

At Thursday night’s meeting of the Antrim Planning Board, the board shared a letter from the Antrim Select Board stating that complaints have been made that ITW is not in compliance with the board’s Notice of Decision dated Sept. 23, 2015.

“People who live on the lake are saying if they can’ t get service, they don’t want to look at the tower anymore,”  said Select Board member Bob Edwards, an ex officio member of the Planning Board. “They are saying they want the tower taken down.”

Planning Board Vice Chair John Anderson noted that as long as there is one service provider on the tower, it is in compliance. A representative from ITW stated to the Planning Board previously that tower “was operational with a 900 MHz system on the tower.” 

Planning Board member Kenneth Rubin said he did not see the point of decommissioning the tower, as “the goal is to get cell service by the lake and on Route 9.” Edwards said he had heard that  “there is not enough demand at that location; it’s not feasible financially for the big providers.” 

The letter from the Select Board stated that “a letter of non-compliance could be sent to ITW allowing them 30 to 60 days to become compliant.”

After a lengthy discussion on the matter, Planning Board Chair Mark Murdaugh said that the next step for the Planning Board is to complete due diligence on the matter, review ITW’s contract with the town and confer with town counsel in order to research the process for possible decommission of the tower at a future date it ITW is verified to be out of compliance.  

In 2023, Art Kauffman, a Pierce Lake resident, started a change.org petition to have the tower removed if the promised cell service is never going to materialize. 

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“It’s time they did what they said they were going to do or the tower should be taken down,”  Kauffman wrote on change.org in 2023.  

ITW, a telecommunications company which builds and operates cell towers in New England and South Florida,  received permission to construct the 150-foot wireless telecommunications cell tower, along with surrounding equipment and maintenance pad, on Pierce Lake in  September 2015. 

The tower, which was constructed on property owned by Andrew and Bess Robblee at 115 Pierce Lake Road in Antrim, was built with the understanding that it would provide cellular service to residents living in the vicinity of the tower and to the section of Route 9 that runs along the north side of the lake. 

In 2020, Art and Nancy Kauffman expressed concern to the Planning Board that since the tower had been constructed in 2019, the area of town still did not have cellular service, as ITW had failed to attract a large cellular carrier such as Verizon.  At the time, the Planning Board determined that “it takes a good two to three years on average before another carrier will join on in the Monadnock region, and it took until 2019 to have the first tower in town built.”

The delay in attracting a large carrier to the tower was attributed in part to business disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic.