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Council must decide on new cell phone tower

By Erin O'Connor

Staff Writer

AGAWAM The owner of Mushy's Golf Center LLC, will go in front of the City Council for a zone change on March 19 requesting a parcel of their land to be included in the City's Wireless Telecommunications Overlay District (WTOD).

Mushy's Golf Center owns the property located at Rear Main Street in Agawam and proposes to lease a portion of the parcel, in an area located northeast of its golf range facility, for the construction, operation and maintenance of a telecommunications facility.

Spokespersons for Mushy's Golf Course were unavailable for comment.

In March of 1998 Agawam enacted an ordinance creating a Wireless Telecommunications Overlay District (WTOD). The purpose, "to protect the scenic, historic, natural and other resources of the Town of Agawam while allowing adequate Personal Wireless Telecommunications to be developed."

The WTOD was a byproduct of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which is divided into seven titles with Telecommunications Services being one of these.

The WTOD designates certain specific parcels where wireless telecommunications structures and facilities may be located and constructed and Mushy' petitionerss said that there is currently no designated area in the northeast quadrant of Agawam.

In the petition Mushy's states that the addition of their parcel to the WTOD is, "necessary to provide wireless communications services in the Town and Hampden County."

The petition makes reference to the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 (the "911 Act"), stating that the purpose of the legislation was to promote public safety through the deployment of a seamless, nationwide emergency communications infrastructure that includes wireless communications services.

The petition continues by stating that as an outgrowth of the 911 Act, the Federal Comminications Commission (FCC) mandated wireless carriers to provide enhanced 911 services ("E911") as part of their communications networks. Stating that these services ultimately would allow 911 public safety dispatchers to identify a wireless caller's geographical location within several hundred feet.

Mushy's stated, "the addition of wireless communications facilities on the Mushy's Parcel would promote the availability of enhanced 911 services in the Town."

Mushy's stated in its petition that a gap in coverage currently exists in Agawam specifically in the northeast corner of the community along Route 57 and Route 159 corridors.