SCARBOROUGH – The Scarborough Planning Board is scheduled to take public comment on a proposal to allow cell towers to go up in more zones around town at its meeting on Monday, June 23, at 7 p.m.

In a memo to the board, Town Planner Dan Bacon said during the past year members of the council’s Ordinance Committee have discussed ways to improve wireless communication and data coverage in sections of town where such services are now poor.

As part of its work, Bacon said, the committee has explored town-owned parcels with an eye to putting up cell towers and has hired a consultant to do a study on the coverage gaps and make suggestions about how those gaps could be closed.

In his memo to the Planning Board, Bacon said the study showed that the areas of town west of the Maine Turnpike, as well as the more rural areas along Spurwink, Black Point, Pine Point, Sawyer and Pleasant Hill roads, all have bad wireless coverage.

Therefore, the goal is to allow cell towers to be built in the rural and rural farming district; the rural, farming and manufactured housing district; the village residential district; and the Crossroads Planned Development district.

In the two rural zones, cell towers would be allowed as a conditional use that would require Planning Board review, as well as the requirement to meet various performance standards.

Other changes being considered by the Planning Board next week include permitting cell towers up to 150 feet; requiring new towers to provide space for multiple providers; and allowing the construction of “stealth” or hidden, building-mounted towers.

“With these changes, wireless providers should be in a position to pursue a variety of different sites in Scarborough to improve coverage and service for users, while also providing contemporary standards that promote (multiple users), minimize the overall number of installations and provide thorough board review and permitting,” Bacon’s memo concludes.

– Kate Irish Collins


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