Council Denies Installation Of Wireless Cell Antennas In Three Locations

The City Council denied the installation of small, low-powered wireless antennas on three existing utility poles on Kimball Avenue, North Shore Road, and Crystal Avenue.

Cellco Partnership (d/b/a Verizon Wireless) sought permission from the Council to install the antennas and “associated equipment” in the three neighborhood locations.

The residents of Crystal Avenue and nearby Pearl Avenue turned out in force for the meeting, applauding each of three votes denying the requests.

Councillor-at-Large Tony Zambuto, who chaired the zoning sub-committee meeting about the issue prior to the Council meeting, was the lone councillor to vote in favor of granting the request for the installations to take place.

“The truth is that we [the City Council] cannot legally vote against the small cell antenna due to the Federal law, in my opinion,” said Zambuto, who also questioned councillors raising the issue of the aesthetic appearance of the antennas as a reason for voting against the installations. “This was a feel-good vote, it made the neighbors feel like they weren’t going to get these small cell antennas which they will end up getting. It was a Pyrrhic victory, in my opinion.”

But residents, such as former Revere School Committee member Dan Maguire of Pearl Avenue, were clearly against the antennas and pleased by the Council’s vote.

“In my living room I would be looking right out at the antenna,” said Maguire. “The Boston Fire Department was against this. The Revere Fire Department was against it and got it removed from Central Fire Station. If it happened at a school [Weston High School] and got removed, why are we going now to the neighborhoods?
Because people won’t speak out, they’re thinking that they can sneak it in.”

Maguire also expressed concerns about the negative effects on people’s health that the antennas might have.

“The jury is still out with the health effects and what happened to the greater good of a neighborhood – who benefits from this, the customers of Verizon – the city gets no benefits from this. Someone gets a faster download of a movie at the sacrifice of the health and welfare of a neighborhood next to a marsh. I don’t want to be reading 10 years from now that someone’s children or grandchildren got sick or anyone got sick.”

 Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna also expressed concerns about the effects the antennas would have on residents in the neighborhood.

“I need to see and read the scientific data,” McKenna said during the sub-committee meeting. “I don’t think there’s enough data for and against – I don’t think there’s enough data, period. And I don’t want to see the same thing that happened with vaping – six months ago we didn’t know the consequences of vaping, now people are dying and people are sick – because there was no data. I just can’t go with this. You’re putting these antennas in a conservation area that is heavily impacted with residents. I just don’t think it belongs in a neighborhood. Put it somewhere else.”

Councillor-at-Large Jessica Giannino brought up the aesthetic appearance of the antennas.

“Aesthetically, I would not want this [cell antennas] outside my bedroom window, or across from my kitchen window, or outside my home,” said Giannino. “So aesthetically, I don’t believe this is the right application for a neighborhood and that is something the City Council can say and cancel it.”

Prior to the three separate votes denying the antenna installations at the Council meeting, Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe said, “The citizens of Revere are speaking and they don’t want this, some of it for reasons based on health or based on the fact they’re unsightly. We’re not breaking the law by voting on this. If they want to take me to court, feel free, that’s their right.”

Keefe’s strong stance drew applause from the Crystal Avenue residents in the audience.

Council President Arthur Guinasso also felt the Council was not in violation of any FCC regulations by voting against the installation of the antennas.

“We’re doing it based on conscience and concern for our community,” said Guinasso. “If somebody can take us to court and challenge that, I don’t see how they can win in court. We’re voting for the wishes of the people we represent and I don’t think anybody can deny that.”

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