Verizon suggests antennas within the bell tower of the second congregational church

A photo simulation shows the minimal visual effect of installing a cellular antenna with shielding in the bell tower of the Second Congregational Church in Newcastle. (Courtesy Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems LLC)

Verizon Wireless suggests installing wireless communication devices in the bell tower of the Second Congregational Church in Newcastle.

The Newcastle Planning Board accepted a request to review the site plan as complete on Thursday 18th February and scheduled a public hearing on the proposal.

The hearing will take place via Zoom on Thursday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m. until petitioner Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems LLC, acting as Verizon Wireless, notifies all abutters.

Ben Frey, chairman of the planning agency, said the city’s tower ordinance required notification of Abutter and a public hearing.

Antennas and radios would be installed in the bell tower and not visible, said Sean Mahoney, a real estate advisor at SAI Communications who represents the applicant.

He said the only visible component was an air conditioning condenser unit on the east corner of the building.

“We believe we have designed the facility with the least amount of structural impact and that any improvements we make to it, including installing the antennas and other equipment, are completely reversible,” Mahoney said.

A photo simulation shows the minimal visual effect of installing a cellular antenna with shielding in the bell tower of the Second Congregational Church in Newcastle. A hearing will take place on Thursday, March 18th. (Courtesy Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems LLC)

Mahoney said the facility will improve cellular signals in the Damariscotta River Valley.

“I think we have a good solution in this area,” said Mahoney.

The antennas are connected via hybrid cables to a 72 square meter utility room on the first floor.

The application contains photos that simulate what the church tower would look like with antennas and shields installed.

Jim Corbett, a member of the Church’s Board of Trustees, telephoned Tuesday, February 24th, saying that he has been working with Mahoney for approximately two years to find a solution that is acceptable to the trustees and the ward.

He said Bell Atlantic would rent the space from the church, creating a source of income.

“Unfortunately, many churches hurt. It’s a sign of the times. And we do what we can to help the church and also to stay relevant and to stay in the ward to serve the church, “said Corbett.

He mentioned the church, which houses the Ecumenical Pantry in its basement every Tuesday, as a major need for the community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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