The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands owns a site on the summit of Bald Mountain in Oquossoc that is leased to a private commercial telecommunication provider for a telecommunications tower and related facilities. The owner of the tower has submitted an application for modification of the tower to increase the height by 18 feet to accommodate additional antennae for FirstNet, operated by New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC doing business as AT&T (the Applicant). The tower height would be increased from 50 feet to 68 feet. The deed for the Bald Mountain Public Lot contains a restrictive covenant stating “…the tower shall not extend above the tree line so as to significantly detract from the scenic and natural features of the premises as viewed from Cupsuptic, Mooselookmeguntic or Rangeley Lakes.” It is also notable that the telecommunications tower is 650 feet from a public observation platform, accessed by the public via a popular hiking trail. While the restrictive covenant does not apply to the view from this platform, BPL is none-the-less also interested in obtaining public input on the change in tower appearance from the observation platform.

The proposed modification of the tower would benefit the local community by providing the FirstNet Emergency Response system for the region. The FirstNet mission is to deploy, operate, maintain, and improve the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. This public safety communications platform is proposed to bring 21st century tools to public safety agencies and first responders, allowing them to get more information quickly and helping them to make faster and better decisions. In addition, the modifications may enhance the cell phone service for private cell phone users.

As part of BPL’s review of the request, BPL is evaluating aesthetic impacts on the mountain and the natural character of the viewshed. BPL is interested to learn the public’s opinion of the impact of the proposed tower extension on scenic and aesthetic values, both as viewed from the observation platform and as viewed from Cupsuptic, Mooselookmeguntic and Rangeley Lakes. The Applicant has provided photos of the existing tower and photo simulations of the proposed extended tower as viewed from those locations.

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