Some at Monday night’s Orient Heights Neighborhood Council (OHNC) were weary about Mariner Tower’s proposed plans to put an 84ft. cell phone tower on McClellan Highway near the Extra Space Storage facility.
Mariner Tower will appear before the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on July 9 to seek zoning relief to construct the tower at 150 McClellan Hwy. Lawyer for Mariner Tower, Joe Hanley and Mariner Tower’s Chris Cioffi, said at Monday’s meeting that there is a serious gap in cell phone coverage in Eastie, especially along the McClellan Highway corridor and surrounding residential area.
“We worked with AT&T and studied the area and found a pretty significant dead-zone that is unusual in such a well-populated and well-traveled area,” said Cioffi. “The addition of this tower would dramatically improve cell phone coverage in the area. It’s kind of like a puzzle that has already been started and we are just trying to put in the final pieces.”
Holding up a map of Eastie, Cioffi showed just how poor cell phone coverage is from Curtis Street to Boardman Street on both the highway and residential side of the neighborhood.
“What we’ve been hearing from residents and elected officials is just how bad coverage is here,” said Cioffi.
Mariner Tower already held a meeting with direct abutters of the project where he said feedback for the project was positive.
However, at OHNC members like Joe Ruggiero called the tower an eyesore and likened it to some of the billboard pollution that plagues McClellan Highway.
“We are trying to take down billboards and this comes along that is bigger than any billboard,” said Ruggiero. “I think it opens up a can of worms because if we say yes as a community how can we say no to the next thing that comes along.”
Ruggiero also asked if AT&T was willing to mitigate the impacts a cell phone tower may pose.
“These companies are in it for one thing…to make money so what will the community get if this is approved?” he asked.
However, Cioffi argued that the tower, although 84ft., would be 10ft. below grade on the southern end of the self-storage facility on the highway and not that noticeable. He showed some drawings that depicted different angles of view of the proposed tower and it was barely visible from the residential parts of the neighborhood adjacent to the highway.
Cioffi added that while the tower would primarily serve AT&T there could be future use on the tower for Sprint, T-Mobile and MetroPCS.