[Added 11-17-1997 STM by Art. 21]
Intent. This article contains specific requirements to guide the special permit process for wireless communications facilities. These guidelines are intended to provide maximum wireless communication coverage, as mandated by Section 704 of the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, while protecting the general welfare and aesthetic integrity of the Town of Belchertown.
The Belchertown Planning Board shall be the special permit granting authority for all purposes under this article and shall adopt rules and regulations with respect to the administration of applications or special permits under this article, subject to the conditions set forth below and in accordance with the provisions of § 145-62 of this article and MGL c. 40A, §§ 9 and 11, as amended.
Waiver of compliance.
The Belchertown Planning Board, acting as the special permit granting authority under this article, in appropriate cases, may waive strict compliance with such requirements of this article, as provided in MGL c. 40A, § 9, where such action is in the public interest and not inconsistent with the purpose and intent of the Zoning Act.
Editor's Note: See MGL c. 40A.
Waiver requests shall be submitted in writing with the application for a wireless communication facility. Waivers granted by the Planning Board under this subsection may be limited by conditions which shall be endorsed on the plan to which said conditions relate or set forth in a separate instrument attached to the plan.
Wireless communications facility other than a tower. A wireless communications facility other than a wireless communications tower may be erected upon the issuance of a special permit by the Planning Board, subject to all of the following conditions:
Installations on existing buildings shall be camouflaged or screened and designed to be harmonious and architecturally consistent with the building. Any equipment associated with the facility shall be located within the building or otherwise so hidden as to be invisible.
No facility shall project more than 10 feet above the existing roofline of the building or more than 10 feet above the top of the existing structure upon which it is mounted or more than five feet out from the plane of the existing wall or facade to which it is attached, provided that such projections do not otherwise violate existing yard dimensions or setback requirements.
Any proposed addition of cells, antennas or panels or replacement of a facility shall be the subject of a new application for an amendment to the special permit.
All building-mounted facilities shall be designed and located so as to appear as an integral part of the existing architecture of the building.
All wireless communication facilities shall be protected against unauthorized access by the public.
Wireless communications facility tower. A wireless communications tower, including antennas and accessory structures, may be erected upon the issuance of a special permit by the Planning Board and is subject to all of the following conditions:
To the extent feasible, all service providers shall co-locate on a single tower. Towers shall be designed to structurally accommodate the maximum number of foreseeable users technically practicable within a ten-year period.
New towers shall be considered only upon a finding by the Planning Board that existing or approved towers cannot accommodate the wireless communication equipment planned for the proposed tower.
No tower shall be located closer than two miles to any other such tower.
Tower height shall not exceed 150 feet above the existing terrain.
The base of a tower shall be a distance of at least equal to two times the tower's height from the property line or existing dwelling unit.
[Amended 5-9-2016 ATM by Art. 32]
One tower only is permitted on any lot.
The size of accessory structures housing support equipment for towers shall be determined individually under each special permit application.
[Amended 5-11-2009 ATM by Art. 15]
Existing vegetation shall be preserved as much as possible.
The Planning Board may impose conditions to ensure that wireless communications facilities are as visually unobtrusive as possible from all perspectives. These conditions may include structural design, painting, lighting and landscaping standards.
Any proposed extension in the height, addition of cells, antennas or panels, construction of a new facility or replacement of a facility shall require a new application for an amendment of the special permit.
No tower or other facility structure shall contain any signs or other devices for advertising.
Announcement signs, "no trespassing" signs and a sign with the owner's telephone number are required. The area of these signs will conform to § 145-22 of this chapter.
Except as required by the Federal Aviation Administration, towers shall not be artificially lighted.
The tower's height may not be greater than the distance from the tower's base to the boundary of the tower owner's legal lease or ownership area.
[Added 5-8-2017 ATM by Art. 28]
All unused towers or parts thereof, or accessory facilities and structures which have not been used for one year, shall be dismantled and removed at the owner's expense. Prior to issuance of a building permit for a wireless communications tower, the applicant is required to post with the Town Treasurer-Collector a bond or other form of financial security acceptable to the Town Treasurer-Collector in an amount set by the Building Inspector. The amount shall be suitable to cover demolition, removal and disposal of the tower and its accessories in the event that the Building Inspector condemns the tower, parts of the tower or any part of the tower's accessories or deems it unused for more than one year. The Building Inspector shall give the tower's owner 45 days' written notice by registered mail before demolition commences. All demolition and removal costs will be billed to the tower's owner, and any unpaid amounts will become an encumbrance on the property.
After notice and public hearing in accordance with Section 9 of the Zoning Act (MGL c. 40A, § 9), the Planning Board may, after due consideration of the reports and recommendations of the Conservation Commission, Town Engineer and Building Inspector, grant such a special permit, provided that the conditions in this Article XII and any special conditions placed by the Planning Board have been adequately met.
[Amended 5-8-2017 ATM by Art. 28]
The Planning Board may retain an engineer and/or other professional consultant for guidance at the expense of the applicant.
The applicant shall submit an operation and maintenance plan and shall annually submit a report, starting 12 months from the date of receiving a certificate of use or certificate of occupancy, demonstrating compliance to the operation and maintenance plan. Any change to the operation and maintenance plan must be approved by the Planning Board.
The Planning Board may periodically amend or add rules and regulations relating to the procedures and administration of this article.