Council to Hold Vote on T-Mobile Small Cell Antenna Sites

At the Council meeting on October 28, councilors will vote on whether or not to improve the installation of 22 small cell antennas at sites around Everett.

Small cell antennas are attached to utility poles and are used to transmit data to and from wireless devices. Unlike the cell towers found on rooftops and along highways, small cells are installed every few blocks.

The proposed locations that Council will vote on October 28 are 431, 573 and 642 Broadway; 40 Cabot St.; 141 Chelsea St.; 27 and 31 Dean St.; 45, 180, 275 and 493 Ferry St.; 110 Florence St.; 91 Garland St.; 23 Griswold St.; 18 Kelvin St.; 9 Kenwood Rd; 301 Main St.; 8, 12 and 49 Montrose St.; 205 Russell St.; 57 Tremont St; 132 Union St.; and 6-8 Windsor St.

The installations would benefit T-Mobile customers and are being presented by a company called ExteNet. ExteNet originally met with Council on September 23 to present the first 10 proposed sites, and again on Oct. 15 to present another 12. The company hopes to install 41 small cell antennas in total.

Between the last two Council meetings, councilors hosted ExteNet at the Committee of the Whole meeting on October 7, where they were able to gather more information about the small cell antennas and what their installation would mean for the city and its residents.

At this meeting, Councilors learned that the antennas would be installed at the top of utility poles between 32 and 35 feet tall, at a height of between eight and 10 feet. The antennas would produce less radiation per unit than a baby monitor, less than 1 percent of the currently allowed radiation level approved by the FCC.

Council is asked to vote on the installation of the antennas largely as a formality. In 2005, Council rejected a petition to install cell antennas and was sued by the petitioner, who cited FCC rules. Since then, Council has approved cellular antennas from companies representing Sprint and AT&T. Verizon is also currently eyeing Everett, with a plan to install 50 small cell antennas of its own.

However, Council does have the option to make its approval contingent upon a company’s compliance with a number of requirements. It is currently working on three separate documents that will impose limitations on the companies seeking to install antennas in Everett, including ExteNet.

One of the documents is a policy that lays out a number of requirements on small cell antenna owners. According to this policy, companies must complete installation within a year, remove unused equipment within 60 days, pay associated electric costs and applicable taxes, maintain equipment, comply with building codes, have their name and contact information visible on all equipment and provide a list of all equipment in the city. Noncompliance with any of the requirements can lead to termination of the license.

The policy also stipulates that the company will enter into an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) agreement with the City, which Council is currently drafting with the help of law professionals. This is essentially a mitigation agreement, which seeks to offset any impact the installations would have on residents.

“We’ve been working diligently behind the scenes, because we knew that these [petitions] would be coming,” City Clerk Sergio Cornelio told Independent. “[Antennas] are a necessity for us to have faster [cell] service.”

Council will also hold public hearings on all of the proposed installation sites, giving the community the opportunity to weigh in on the chosen locations.

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