Cell service may expand in Clarksville

The Enterprise — Jo E. Prout

Eliminating dropped calls: Rick Andras, a radio frequency engineer for Verizon Wireless, explains to the zoning board how cellular coverage could increase with a 124-foot tower in Clarksville. The maps beside him show coverage areas.

NEW SCOTLAND — Verizon may no longer drop signals in Clarksville, if the company receives a variance for a tower almost 80 feet taller than town code allows.

The zoning board heard a variance request by Nixon Peabody representing Cellco Partnership, a subsidiary of Verizon Wireless, to construct a 124-foot tower with up to 12 antennas at 116 feet. Under town standards, commercial towers can be only 45 feet high.

“Usage is doubling year over year,” said Rick Andras, a radio frequency engineer for Verizon Wireless. Andras said that Verizon is unable to keep up.

“Each tower can handle 1,200 simultaneous calls or data events,” Andras said.

The variance is for a tower at 20 Stovepipe Road, which is owned by Robert and Andy Appleby.

Andras said the group also considered town landfill property before settling on the Appleby property.

“You know there’s a cliff in there?” asked town engineer R. Mark Dempf.

“I’m not exactly sure,” Andras said. “I panned around Google Earth.”

Attorney Jared Lusk, with Nixon Peabody, of Rochester, said that, in order for the communications company to keep its Federal Communications Commission license, Verizon is required to provide “substantial service to its licensed area.”

Areas of Clarksville are in a “dead zone,” where dropped calls are common.

Other nearby tower sites are about 6 miles apart, Lusk said.

The board set a public hearing for Verizon’s request for Dec. 15. at 7 p.m. and referred the application to the planning board for its meeting Dec. 1.

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