To the Editor:
I am writing in support of Susan Gaertner's perspective on the cell tower issue in Burke Centre [“Cell Tower Challenged in Burke,” Burke Connection, April 24-30, 2014]. Granting that reception may be a problem with some carriers in some parts of Burke, it does not seem to me that, based on the Conservancy's governing documents, it is the Board of Trustee's responsibility to improve cell phone service for residents; nor do the Trustees clearly have the legal authority to lease our Open Space, including land at our five community centers, to a commercial vendor such as AT&T for the purpose of erecting a cell tower. Furthermore, such a lease would violate our Easement of Enjoyment in the Common Areas per Article IV, Section 2 of the Burke Centre Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions.
The Conservancy was remiss in not resolving these legal and jurisdictional issues before accepting AT&T's offer to submit a proposal for consideration and, therefore, for causing months of perhaps needless anxiety on the part of many residents who are appalled at the prospect of having a cell tower located at one of our community centers. If they felt that they were justified in taking these actions, they should have clearly explained the basis for their actions in advance.
Another avenue they could have taken but did not would have been to amend our Covenants in order to give them the authorization they would need to lease Open Space in this manner. That process would have required participation of a super majority of owners to succeed, not a majority vote by seven Trustees. Given the stakes, that would have been the more appropriate route in my opinion.
The proposed tower would sit on the crest of the hill about 40 feet up from First Landing Way, one of the two streets that serve the Woodwalk Condominium where I have lived since January 1983. My building is on the same side of the street as the tower and just below it. Two more of our buildings are directly on the other side of the street. However, at a height of 160 feet, the tower would be visible from most areas of Woodwalk, including our other road, Old Landing Way. The height is twice the size of your average oak tree, so AT&T's ability to disguise it as a pine tree is moot. It will be an ugly eyesore overlooking and threatening our entire development and the enjoyment and financial security of our property.
The Board of Trustees needs to decide whose interests it serves, those of Burke Centre's owners and residents or those of AT&T, and it must accept the limitations of its responsibility for providing cell phone reception.
The Landings Community Center is located in the center of Burke, between First Landing Way and Cove Landing Road off Burke Centre Pkwy. To allow a cell tower to be erected in this location would be to drive a stake into the heart of Burke.
Although I am not sending you this message in any official capacity, I currently serve as Secretary of the Woodwalk Board of Directors and Chairman of its Landscape Committee. I have also served as President and editor of our newsletter with some 17 years of cumulative service to my community from which I feel I am being driven by these developments.
Michael K. Walsh