• Local community united in battle against cellphone tower

    By: Drew Karedes

    Updated:

    PEABODY, Mass. - A Peabody community is banding together in a heated battle with Verizon Wireless.

    The controversy centers around a proposed 60-foot cellphone tower in the middle of a family-friendly neighborhood. The two sides have had their heels in the sand for nearly five years. 

    Homeowners in the south Peabody community couldn't be any more clear, with signs displayed in their front yards and their vocal public opposition, residents, along with city officials, are willing to do whatever it takes to stop the cell tower.

    "It's an eyesore every time you walk onto our deck you're going to see it," said homeowner Dean Fisher. 

    Fisher said he wishes he had known about the tower before investing in home renovations. 

    "This big apparatus is going to be going right up in the neighborhood," he said. 

    Fisher's property backs up to Michael's Limousine, on Lynn Street, which agreed to lease a portion of its property to Verizon for a 60-foot cellphone tower, which it says is needed to fill a gap in cell coverage. 

    The proposition, which was presented in 2014, was rejected by the city council. 

    "The fence is going to be huge, everything is going to be massive," said homeowner Jennifer Swanson. "My house value, if I want to resell, it's going to be nothing."

    Nearly five years later, the public fight continues after a recent land court ruling, which sided with Verizon, citing federal law, ordering the city to issue permits for the tower. 

    "Verizon is a corporate giant. They think they can come in and steamroll cities and towns. This is a fight that's worth taking for our residents," said Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt. 

    Bettencourt has been standing with homeowners in the heated battle. The city has appealed the court's ruling, but time could be running out an there's a fear the tower could soon be going up. 

    "This is a tower that would be right in their backyard, right where they could see it every day," Bettencourt said. "if we can find a reasonable alternative that’s terrific but if not the pole could be erected in that location."

    Peabody Municipal Light Plant is now working to pitch that reasonable alternative. 

    One potential solution would be for Verizon to install pint-sized canisters on city utility poles in hopes of providing the same coverage as a tower. 

    Peabody Municipal Ligh Plant is independent of the city government.

    The mayor is encouraging residents to reach out and let the electric utility company know if they support the alternative solution. 

    Verizon Wireless said in a statement: "We remain interested in investing to improve our network in Peabody to add capacity and coverage for our customers and first responders."

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