AT&T will put cell phone antennas on the roof of the Quincy Marriott Hotel, after receiving approval from the Zoning Board.
The cell phone company had attempted to bypass the approval process, citing a recently released clarification on federal law. Although Quincy officials eventually approved the plans, they mandated that the carrier plan’s be vetted by the board.
“[The federal law] doesn’t exempt them from the process,” said city Building Inspector Jay Duca. “It basically [says] we can’t deny them a permit, and we’ve never denied a permit nor are we ever going to, but the process, unless they get further clarification from someone else or until a judge tells the court something different, you need a special permit.”
The process allows the city to better control how and where antennas are placed on city buildings, how many would go on the roof, if there are abandoned antennas, and what the emissions effect of the added antennas would be.
The process also allows neighbors to weigh in and permits the city to discuss aesthetics.
“They feel they have a right to walk into our department, ask for a building permit, I would give it to them and they’d be on their way,” Duca said.
When Duca told AT&T it had to go through permitting, the company first appealed his determination to the Zoning Board. Zoning Board members upheld Duca’s decision at a Aug. 6 meeting, and went on to approve the cell permits after reviewing all the requirements.
“They had they applied for a building permit and given me all that stuff. It seems to me it’s not painful at all, the process,” Duca said.
AT&T said it had attempted to bypass the special permit process to inform the city of their rights.
“AT&T's goal with the site in Quincy, as it is with every location, is to work with the community so we can provide the best connectivity possible while minimizing any impacts. It is not out of the ordinary that we make policy makers aware of legal requirements at both the state and federal level as part of that process,” said Will Keyser, a spokesman for AT&T in New England in an e-mail.
Keyser went on to add that the company was pleased with the overall ruling of the board.
“We're pleased that this site has been approved and is moving forward as it will improve the quality of our service in Quincy,” Keyser said.
The plans call for 12-panel antennas to be mounted on the façade of the building. Power and telecommunication will come from existing sources on the site.
No neighbors came out to protest the antennas going up on the building.