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Proposed cell antennas in Mattapan stir concern

Posted by Patrick Rosso  November 29, 2012 11:39 AM

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New cellular communication antennas could be popping up on a Mattapan utility pole, concerning some area residents.

At a recent meeting of the Applegrove Neighborhood Association, which represents the southeastern side of Mattapan, residents said they are worried about the negative impacts to the health of the community from the antennas.

The new equipment, which would be installed and used by AT&T, is slated to be located on the 78-foot pole that is on property in front of the Economy Plumbing and Heating Company on Morton Street.

Currently the pole, owned by TowerCo and located on land leased to them by the store, hosts equipment for Sprint and Clearwire, along with a large American flag.

Christian Rivera a representative for AT&T, who met with members of the neighborhood association Wednesday night, said the new equipment will improve service for Mattapan customers using AT&T’s 4G LTE system.

“It [the new equipment] advances AT&T coverage up to 4G,” Rivera told the 30 residents at Wednesday’s meeting. “It’s faster data service and less dropped calls. It will enhance service.”

Some though said they were concerned about the signals being sent by the antennas.

“How safe is it?” asked Helen Barrett, an area resident. “I’m concerned about the exposure and how it will affect the community.”

Rivera was quick to defend the antennas and the signals emitted.

“We are well within or below the Federal Communication Commission regulations,” added Rivera.

Others were more interested in the benefits that will come to the community from AT&T’s work.

Rivera said in addition to offering better service, AT&T is a contributor to a number of Boston nonprofits.

One resident, Tony Crook, said residents need to also know what the Economy Plumbing and Heating Company will do for the community.

Based on Morton Street since 2002, the company, owned by five brothers, doesn’t own the pole or make the decision on who gets to use it.

“We get a small percentage of any income the tower company receives,” Claudio Poles, one of the owners, said by phone Thursday morning. “In the initial agreement they wrote they had the option to take on any carries. We really don’t have a say in the matter.”

Although Poles said his company won’t see the greatest financial benefits from the new antennas, other than improved service, he said Economy has always been dedicated to the community, where he and his brothers live.

“I think it’s a plus for everyone and I don’t think it will hurt anybody,” said Poles, whose brother Livio is the president of the nearby West Selden Street and Vicinity Neighborhood Association, which also met on the matter. “We’re part of this community. We live here and we work here. We always support the local organizations, police, and little leagues.”

While many at the meeting were not sure how they felt about the new equipment, a follow up meeting was scheduled for January, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals will have the final say on the matter however.

AT&T will appear before the board Feb. 12. The pole was originally constructed and approved by the ZBA in 2005, said Rivera.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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