It is my understanding that the Rockland Planning Board did not grant approval for the cell tower to be built on Camden Street. This action comes after a public report by the City Manager of lawyer’s advice that the cell tower company had the right to build a tower at the Camden Street location. This opinion had been prepared by two lawyers and in consultation with City Council.
It might be safe to say that few people living in Rockland want a huge cell tower at the Camden Street location. But our City regulations were not prepared to prevent this.
The Planning Board still wants to prevent the cell tower from being built and has asked City Council to provide them with funding for more lawyer fees to argue their position.
This is not the time to fight a losing battle and certainly not to use City funds to do so. We are a small city already struggling with budgets and taxes. Now we are facing pandemic levels of struggle for everyone. We do not need to waste money going up against deep pockets.
Why is the Planning Board rejecting City advice and requirement? They have now caused the cell tower company to sue the city, forcing the city to spend our tax dollars to defend itself because the Planning Board could not agree with what two lawyers saw earlier, and that the City cannot win this battle.
The citizens of Rockland need to know that the Planning Board’s obstinance means spending taxes on lawyers for a long battle against deep pockets determined to build what they are allowed by law and ordinance. Our City Manager and Council settled this issue to avoid wasteful spending. If this argument is a power struggle among the Planning Board, the City Manager and City Council, it needs to stop. Does the City Council have the power to dismiss or appoint members of the Planning Board? Is this an extraordinary situation that warrants such an action to prevent unnecessary spending for this battle of wills?
How do we stop the futile spending now?
Do we talk to the Planning Board members to convince them to approve the tower?
Does the City Council dismiss the appointed Planning Board members that do not agree to approve the tower and appoint new Planning Board members?
Is this a compelling argument to hire a full-time city planner to promptly bring the comprehensive plan to completion, review the ordinances, and guide City Council to pass protections we need for the future?
Or do we limp along and wait for the next oversight, still using old regulations, old ordinances and old codes that will allow someone to build something else we do not want in a place that we do not want it?
In the meantime, the Planning Board has put us in a real pickle that is about to cost us a lot of money unless they approve the cell tower on Camden Street even though we do not want it there.
Connie Hayes lives in Rockland