Zoning board denies church's request for cell tower

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Opponents of plans by a Methodist church in Wakefield to build a 104-foot cell tower on its property have won a round in their fight to defeat the proposal. On Jan. 8, the town's Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the proposal by SBA Communications, based in Boca Raton, Fla., to build the tower and a wireless communications facility for telecom giants Verizon Wireless and AT&T in the parking lot of the Wakefield-Lynnfield United Methodist Church at 271 Vernon St. Because the property is zoned as residential, the company needed a variance from the board to build the tower. But the plan caused a rift between the nearly 60-year-old church and its 125 members, some of whom live in the neighborhood, and nearby residents who oppose the tower. The Rev. Glenn Mortimer said the wireless tower would provide much-needed revenue for the church's mission, but neighbors said it would ruin the visual landscape and lower property values. SBA Communications has not withdrawn its application. “We're hesitant to call it a victory, as we realize this battle is not finished,” said Fraser McLean, one of the neighbors who opposes the tower. “We certainly feel like we showed that local communities can mobilize and stand up for the integrity of their neighborhoods.”

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