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Tower discussion postponed until September

By Jennifer Sawyer


WILBRAHAM The Wilbraham Planning Board held a public meeting July 19 at Wilbraham Town Hall on Springfield Street. The board tackled a collection of issues in front of a number of concerned town residents.

Dave Fortier and his surveyor, Dan O'Brien, brought a special permit application of flexible non-subdivision in front of the Planning Board. Fortier, a resident of Burleigh Road, would like to create an estate lot out of excess backlands for possible future construction. A proposed parking lot would be constructed on the nine-acre parcel, along with a path allowing the public access to the Rice Farm Nature Reserve.

This brought about a great deal of concern from other residents of the road, who found a number of issues with Fortier's plan.

A concerned neighbor expressed fear that the proposed parking lot may be located on a dangerous curve of the road where it is difficult to see, causing unavoidable major accidents.

Another neighbor expressed anxiety with the projected path, claiming that the trail way will enhance an already growing problem with dirt bikes and four-wheelers trespassing through yards and on private property.

"We hope to stop [illegal] traffic by congesting the area," Fortier said about his plan.

Neighbors claimed that Fortier's hopes would not materialize, as, though dirt bike and four-wheeled activity is illegal, it is infrequently enforced, and until a police officer is actually stationed at the entrances to certain paths, the problem will continue to expand.

According to other residents in attendance, water runoff has also proven a particular concern in the area of late. The board expressed that some flooding on Main Street has been due to the runoff of developments such as the idea proposed.

The committee ultimately moved to continue the public hearing at the Aug. 23 meeting, explaining that the town engineers would be consulted for input on the case prior to any formal decision-making.

Shortly after that discussion, a number of residents began to file into the Planning Board meeting room, expecting to learn more about the proposed construction of a 120-foot T-Mobile cell tower on Stony Hill Road, a division of the street located on the property of Boy Scout Troop #40.

The audience was alerted that the public hearing was intended to be moved to Aug. 23. Many in attendance voiced concern over the date of the hearing, and requested that the meeting be moved until after Labor Day.The meeting is now scheduled for Sept. 13.

A representative from one company involved with the projected cell tower construction addressed the concerns of residents.

"There are issues we just don't feel comfortable answering right now," he said.

The board agreed with the representative's comments, and invited those wanting to learn more about the tower to attend the meeting on Sept. 13.

The board moved on to an appointment with Attorney Trant Campbell, the representative of Wilbraham resident Mr. Portfilio. In the mid 1990s Portfilio was given a special permit with an estate lot, but did not take any action with the lot. The board declared that the permit had lapsed and Portfilio must reapply if he intends to take future action.

The meeting concluded with the signing of several non-subdivision proposals that will divide landlines. The plans were approved and endorsed by Chairman Richard Butler. The next Planning Board meeting and public hearing will be held on Aug. 23 at 7 pm.