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Framingham rejects cell tower in archdiocese cemetery

Posted by David Dahl, Regional Editor October 28, 2008 05:12 PM

Framingham officials have rejected a proposal to build a 100-foot cell tower in a local cemetery owned by the Archdiocese of Boston.

In a unanimous decision Monday night, the Zoning Board of Appeals denied the request by Omnipoint Communications, a subsidiary of T-Mobile, to erect the cell tower on St. George’s Cemetery near a wooded area off Cherry Street and Upper Joclyn Avenue. (See previous Globe story here.)

"It was adjacent to the tombstones in the cemetery," Eugene Kennedy, the board’s administrator, said in an interview. "You would have to go through the cemetery area… which would have led to some level of disruption of the cemetery grounds."

A spokesman for the archdiocese, Terrence Donilon, said the archdiocese leased the land to T-Mobile and had not intended to support or oppose the cell tower.

"We clearly respect the wishes of the town, as we have said from day one, and we respect the process,'' Donilon said in an interview afterwards. "Our objective is for caring for the cemetery and making sure it’s a place that is sacred and well kept. It’s T-Mobile’s decision to see what they want to do.''

Kennedy said there had been some discussion of putting the cell tower at the back of the cemetery, accessible through Norman Drive.

"That was discussed as a possible alternative; it was never presented as part of an application," Kennedy said. "That conceivably could be an alternative in the future; they could look at other parts of the cemetery."

The company could submit another application to the Zoning Board of Appeals, Kennedy said.

A representative for T-Mobile could not immediately be reached for comment.

The cemetery, an 11-acre graveyard, dates back to the 1850s, when St. George parish on School Street was one of the biggest Catholic congregations in Eastern Massachusetts. At the time, its pastor bought the Cherry Street land for an expanded burying ground.

--Tanya Pérez-Brennan

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