BURLINGTON – Verizon Wireless recently earned approval from the Planning Board regarding its special permit to install rooftop antennas atop Wegmans Food Market at 53 Third Avenue in Northwest Park.
Cellco Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless (VzW), operates a national 4G LTE network covering nearly 98 percent of the United States. With approximately 113.4 million subscribers, VzW is one of the largest national wireless networks. To support an ever-growing customer base, VzW is seeking avenues to provide seamless coverage for its users. The proposed site will target a densely populated location with high cellphone use.
VzW will install three ballast mounted antennas inside fiberglass faux flue canisters on the roof of the existing Wegmans Food Market. The antennas will be disguised under a container considered to be called “stealth.”
The highest existing appurtenance, the Wegmans clock-tower, is 82-feet. VzW's Alpha, Beta and Gamma antennas will be roughly 38-feet, 44-feet and, 45-feet, respectively. Ballast mounted remote radio heads and associated equipment, including a small GPS antenna, will be installed on the roof. Equipment cabinets will be installed on a 10'x15' steel frame on the roof.
VzW recognizes the town’s desire to enhance the quality of life for residents while minimizing adverse effects of new development. Therefore, they seek to show that the proposed site will meet or exceed many of the considerations set forth in the bylaws.
The building on which the facility is proposed, Wegmans Food Market, is uniquely situated in a Wireless Overlay District, the Northwest Park Planned Development District and a Water Resource District.
As such, VzW further seeks to show that the proposed site meets the considerations of all three districts. The revamped site will benefit Burlington residents and visitors by providing improved cellular phone coverage and capacity in a particularly dense user area. VzW will accomplish this goal without negatively impacting the character of the area by camouflaging the antennas to match the existing conditions and general appearance of the immediate area. By collocating on an existing building rooftop and by forgoing a traditional generator set, VzW will virtually eliminate impacts on the natural environment.
Andy Candiello, of VzW, called the proposed antennas, “stealth” because of how they are situated on the roof.
“We are proposing simple canisters on the roof. Once they are up there, no one is going to know what it is,” Candiello said. “That is what we call stealth antennas. They are the most unobtrusive antennas in the business. Wegmans approved the steal antennas because they are more harmonious with what they want in terms of the standard corporate look.”
Candiello assured the planners the three antennas will be a “benefit” to Northwest Park.
“It is wireless infrastructure that everyone depends on now,” he declared.
The planners tried several times to get Verizon to persuade Wegmans to cloak the antennas with 3M wireless concealment films, which make wireless infrastructures blend into surrounding environments.
However, Candiello explained to the board that he inquired to Wegmans about the 3M materials, but had no success.
“Basically, [Wegmans] did not feel comfortable with that,” remarked Candiello, who admitted he could not divulge any further information pertaining to the conversations with Wegmans.
Though it was not the preferred option of the Planning Board, they understood Verizon exhausted all the design options for the antennas.
With that understanding, the board unanimously approved the special permit.