OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES
January 5, 2014
Site Visit at Jacksonville Stage Road, near intersection with Old County Road (South)
The meeting was convened at approximately 9:15 am onsite in sunny, calm and very cold weather. Board members in attendance were Earl Holtz and Edee Edwards. Lewis Sumner was not present. Others in attendance were Mike Barreiros (independently contracted to perform balloon float by VTEL), and Steven Andrews, Rick Gay, Marilyn Allen, Jesse Ferland, Fred (Hop) Crosby, Howard Smith, Kathy McLean, Katie Bac, and Larry Crosier.
Balloon Float Test for VTEL proposed Wireless Broadband Tower
At the time of the meeting, the consulting firm had already put into place an 8-10 foot diameter red balloon floating in the air. Barreiros stated that the bottom of the balloon was at 90 feet high. It was located by GPS coordinate to be within 4 inches of the exact spot a proposed monopole would be sited. Meanwhile, a colleague of Mike’s was driving around and taking photos of the balloon from various locations throughout the town. The monopole would provide wireless broadband service to about 300 homes in Halifax, Edwards stated from the project packet information. Edwards also passed out agendas for the subsequent meeting on Tuesday.
Hearing of Visitors
Rick Gay noted that there was no zoning involved in the proposed tower, outside of a driveway permit, which is managed by the Selectboard.
A discussion between Andrews and Holtz stated that while Fairpoint had run fiber cable up to Halifax Center, they had not put in the full cabinet needed to install DSL. Timing for any other service options for high-speed internet is unknown.
Most people expressed that the height and location of the balloon didn’t seem obtrusive. The pictures in the project package showed tree heights at 45 feet, but here the surrounding trees were visibly taller than that. Andrews and others raised questions about the height of the tower. The packet of information most often used the 90’ figure, but it also mentioned 140’. Holtz stated that his conversations with the attorney representing VTEL indicated this was likely incorrect information that had been left in incorrectly. Edwards stated that this would be a key question during Tuesday’s meeting. Barreiros confirmed that the balloon test was being done only at 90 feet, and he was not allowed to vary from that height per his contract. He stated that the tree height in the diagrams could be an average. The images to be created from today’s test will show a more realistic and accurate depiction of the area.
An inquiry was made about whether the height of the trees here would impede the signal. Crosier did point out several trees that would be cut for the tower to be installed, but this location didn’t require much cutting.
McLean expressed concerns about the visibility of the town and the historic value of the center, as well as mentioning unknown health impact of radiowaves. Allen noted that she was a little relieved at how little visual impact the tower would appear to have. Smith noted that he was hoping to get high speed internet soon.
The Selectboard made no motions.
Meeting was closed at approximately 9:48 a.m.