Councilor-at-Large Michael Flaherty Calls for Public Hearing on Lack of Public Process Regarding Siting of Antenna Devices

October 31, 2017
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Boston City Councilor At-Large Michael Flaherty has called for a public hearing to discuss the siting and impacts of telecommunications-based infrastructure upgrades that are taking place across Boston. The hearing comes in response to concerns raised by constituents, from various neighborhoods, regarding the lack of awareness of the implementation of these antenna devices (technically referred to as small cell, small wireless and distributed antenna systems), and the potential effects on quality of life.

The City of Boston has license agreements with six wireless providers that manage more than 300 small cell sites to assist with wireless telecommunications. These providers are American Tower Corporation, Crown Castle, Extenet, Lightower, Mobilitie, and Verizon. The respective contracts allow the providers to install the antenna devices on city properties – such as streetlights, utility poles, and traffic lights – along with non-city properties (subject to approval) over the course of 10 years according to the term of agreement.

“It is understandable and reasonable that, given that we live in a historic city which is going through an era of rapid growth and development, it is necessary that the landscape of Boston requires consistent infrastructure upgrades, including telecommunications-based infrastructure,” said Boston City Councilor At-Large Michael Flaherty. “However, it is unacceptable that residents have not been made aware of the process. Further, while the Federal Communications Commission has regulations that keep an eye on the public health concerns raised by these systems, we need to keep in mind that the actual placement of these devices can still be detrimental to an individual’s health and quality of life.”

Flaherty also noted that despite the technical name of the device, the antenna systems are by no means “small.” Residents have brought to attention the displeasing aesthetic features of the antenna devices, which have appeared inches away from their windows, stating that they do not fit into the landscape of the neighborhood and are invasive.

Community members are encouraged to send their concerns and suggestions to Michael.Flaherty@Boston.gov.

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