At the Milton Board of Appeals meeting last Tuesday, the Board rejected T-Mobile’s proposal to build a cell tower at Camp Sayer. For a Boston Globe article on the vote, click here. Below is FBH’s second letter to the Board of Appeals. Here’s our first.
John S. Leonard, Chairman
Town of Milton Board of Appeals
525 Canton Avenue
Milton MA 02186
Re: Supplemental Opposition to Application to Construct a Monopole Cellular Transmission Tower at Camp Sayre
Dear Chairman Leonard:
It has come to our attention that the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which holds a recorded conservation restriction (CR) on the Camp Sayre property (Book 10955, Page 540, Norfolk Registry of Deeds) has determined that a cell tower would violate the restriction and is not a permitted use. Because the applicant cannot overcome this threshold requirement, the application must be denied.
As noted in our previous letter in opposition, the CR was granted to the Commonwealth in 1995 for the sum of $1,750,000.00. The purpose of the CR is to “preserve the land in its existing natural, scenic and open space condition and . . . to limit the use of Camp Sayre solely to those
activities which promote outdoor recreation, education and training. No other use of such land which is inconsistent with the [CR] and Article 97 [of the Constitution of the Commonwealth]
shall be permitted.” (Article I, Purpose; emphasis added.)
Obviously, constructing a cell tower is not an activity “which promote[s] outdoor recreation, education and training.” Just as obviously, leasing or otherwise conveying a portion of the property for the construction of a cell tower is inconsistent with the “existing natural, scenic and open space condition” of the property.
Second, the most recent Management Plan dated March 22, 2010 submitted by the property owner pursuant to Article II of the CR makes no mention of plans to erect a cell tower: “There are no immediate plans for any new structures on the camp property. We will continue to do needed maintenance on existing structures, including residing all the latrines. We completed connecting the camp trails to the DCR trails in 2007”.
Article XII of the CR (“Notice and Approval”) provides the procedure for the property owner to request permission for an activity “which may conflict or otherwise be considered questionable by a prudent purpose interpreting the provisions of this [CR] and the Management Plan.” Because DCR has denied use of the property for a cell tower, the property owner must accept the determination or, if it chooses, pursue an action in Land Court. See, e.g., Goldmuntz v. Town of Chilmark, 38 Mass. App. Ct. 696 (1995). In no event, however, may the application be approved in violation of the restriction.
The applicant is charged with knowledge of the contents of this recorded document. In fact, the (unsigned and undated) “affidavit” of the applicant’s Site Acquisition Specialist, James George, states in paragraph 7(a) that the Milton Animal Shelter would not be an appropriate site for a cell tower, in part because of “deed restrictions relating to commercial development.” Inexplicably, the applicant fails to give similar import to the express language of the Camp Sayre restrictions.
If the Board of Appeals does not deny the application outright, it is submitted that action on the application be held in abeyance pending final resolution of the notice and approval procedure set forth in the CR.
John B. Sheehan
Vice President, Friends of the Blue Hills