By Steve MacDonald
On Tuesday, the voters of Bedford will head to the polls to vote for two town councilors. There are three candidates on the ballot – Catherine Rombeau, Chris Bandazian and Jim Barrett. The Bedford Taxpayers Association has endorsed Jim Barrett as a candidate. The association supports “reasonable spending, less regulation and smaller government” while it opposes “wasteful spending, federal intervention and increases in taxes/fees.” There seems to be a push by some “insiders” the town and on the council for Bandazian, almost a desperate push to have him re-elected. And that’s where the election gets a bit interesting.
To make a long story short (at least for the moment), former Bedford New Hampshire Town Manager Steve Daly entered into an agreement with Crown Castle Towers to lease public property for the placement of a cell tower. Daly never had permission from the Town Council. The zoning board refused to approve the deal. Crown sued the town. A resident intervened. Daly resigned “for personal reasons.” Crown eventually halted their suit.
The tower was slated for 77 Chubbuck Road, at the town’s transfer station. Petitions were signed opposing it. The locals don’t want it there. Citizens are concerned about the proximity to the Riddle Brook Elementary School. And now that the lawsuit is over more than a few residents probably think the story ended there. It did not.
There is a draft application on file with Bedford Town Manager Rick Sawyer from Blue Sky Towers, LLC for a proposed wireless “facility” at 77 Chubbuck Rd. Verizon Wireless has submitted an RF Report for the site. Blue Sky does business out of Massachusetts and until recently was named Wireless Realty Advisors, LLC. Earl Duval was listed as the Resident Agent of Wireless Realty Advisors with the Massachusetts Secretary of State, and yes, that is important.
Earl Duval was the Attorney representing Crown Castle/Verizon in the lawsuit over the first Chubbuck Road tower. Earl Duval is a signing agent for Blue Sky Towers.
If you take a quick look at the Blue Sky Tower Website you’ll find one of their tower sites next to the Bedford transfer station (pictured above). The same location rejected by Bedford Residents and the Zoning Board, over which Crown Castle Tower Attorney Earl Duval was suing the town.
How or why does Blue Sky think this is one of their sites? There have been no hearings or presentations, the public has not been consulted, and neither the Council nor zoning board has weighed in on whatever details remain to be added to the incomplete application?
It is a question that cannot be answered directly, but people who would know the most about this would like very much for Chris Bandazian to be re-elected to the town council. Bandazian has been on the council for a decade. He is familiar with the cell tower controversy and the public opposition. When he had the opportunity last December to second a motion that could have prevented any cell tower from going up on town land, he chose to say nothing. None of the councilors seconded the motion. Was it all for show?
Not long after, the town received a new application for another tower with ties to the previous suitor. Verizon came back after the Crown Castle affair to submit an RF Report for a tower that Blue Sky’s website shows even closer to the neighborhood and Elementary school. And this may just be a coincidence but right after the December vote, where no one would second the motion noted above, Chris Bandazian is quoted by the Union Leader as saying:
…those residents who are opposed to having a cell tower on Chubbuck Road could eventually have one constructed even closer.
And now they do.
All sources suggest that Bandazian is the “connected Bedford insider” favorite. There are two seats open and only one incumbent running, Chris Bandazian. Bedford residents still don’t want the cell tower near their homes and the school but it appears Bandazian knows more about it than he’s letting on. Since the council didn’t have the will to vote a cell tower down in that area once and for all, is Bandazian somehow a part of the deal that isn’t being revealed?
Is this all connected? Have residents been sold out for a song and a lucrative lease deal? Bedford voters will have to decide if that matters to them on Tuesday when they choose their new town councilors.