New AT&T cell tower would fill coverage gap in Bridgton

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

The Bridgton Planning Board began its review Tuesday of a new cell phone tower proposed for property off Hio Ridge Road.

The tower is proposed for 214 Hio Ridge Road by New Cingular Wireless, doing business as AT&T Mobility, and the American Tower Corporation. A fenced compound would be constructed on land to be leased annually from Thomas and Damin Sutherby, John and JoAnn Harmon and Susan Tuck.

The 130-foot-high tower “is needed to provide improved coverage along Route 302 and surrounding areas,” according to Barry Hobbins, who appeared before the board Tuesday to outline the plans. There is a coverage gap in that location, the application states.

Traffic counts for Route 302 reached 7,600 in 2010, the application states, and “The proposed facility will provide much needed coverage for residential customers living, working and commuting” in that area.

“Wireless communications are no longer limited to just providing mobility for voice services,” the application states. “It has evolved into a wider range of advanced services, to include wide-area voice, video calls and broadband wireless data, all in a mobile environment.” In order for AT&T to offer these competitive services, they need to improve the quality of their coverage by filling in “as many of the marginal coverage (areas) as possible with signal strengths conducive to in-building and in-vehicle usage.”

The tower will provide co-location opportunities for other interested carriers beside AT&T in order to minimize the number of towers required in Bridgton, the application states.

The site was selected using computer modeling that examined three other existing towers in Bridgton, on Sam Ingalls Road, Mountain Road and Portland Road. It was determined that AT&T’s antennae on those towers “is not capable of providing coverage” to the targeted coverage area.

The board will be reviewing the plans under the town’s Tower Ordinance and will be scheduling a public hearing in April.

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