SELDC Approves Replacement of Four Light Poles With Small Cell Antennae

The South End Landmark District Commission (SELDC) met virtually on April 5, where it ap-proved the replacement of several light poles with small cell antenna equipment. The Back Bay has also seen a number of these proposals in recent months, and discussion is ongoing abut consistency of these poles within the district.

Keenan Brinn of ExteNet Systems presented proposals for new light poles at four locations in the South End: 789 Harrison Ave., 750 Albany St., 660 Tremont St., and 61-63 Berkeley St. He said these locations have been approved by the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services as well as the city’s street lighting division, but he was now before the SELDC to receive their approval.

Brinn explained that small cells are “ways that the [cell phone] carriers can supplement their service to the city,” and are best placed on light poles rather than on rooftops. The equipment on the pole usually includes a base, an equipment shroud, and an antenna.

Commissioner John Amodeo asked, “if this street were to be upgraded with light poles that were more consistent with the district,” whether ExteNet would be willing to replace it with the more consistent one. The pole proposed for 789 Harrison Ave. was a black steel pole, a change from the existing concrete pole.

“The reason we go to Boston Street Light first,” Brinn said, is that “they will tell us whether or not a pole needs to be changed and the type of pole it is.”

He also said that the technology changes about every three years or so, so the equipment will need to be swapped out.

Commissioner John Freeman said that “if we know that they are going to change” the equip-ment within a relatively short period of time, “I think we can allow this the way it is.”

For 789 Harrison Ave., the Commission voted to approve the application as submitted, pro-vided that a black metal pole is used instead of a concrete one, and “any future changes to the equipment or technology should come back to the Commission,” even if it is just removal of equipment.

At 750 Albany St., the proposal was to replace an existing double acorn light with another double acorn light that will feature the small cell antenna and equipment. That one was also accepted as submitted.

At 660 Tremont St., Brinn said that the existing pole is what he describes as a “short Arietta design;” a “pole with a very short light pole on it.”

He said that Boston Street Light had asked ExteNet to “replace what they call a boulevard pendant,” as changes are being made on Tremont St.

“I think that the light pole replacements on this street are part of a larger upgrade of Tremont St. that’s also going to include new bike lanes that we’ve seen come before us earlier,” Amo-deo said.

Brinn said that the pole at this location will be similar in height to the existing pole—about 25 feet, and “the pole itself becomes a little more robust just because these need to have a little extra structural engineering done to them.” This pole will also be a steel pole painted back and will feature the equipment and antenna that will sit about two and a half feet off the top of the pole.

The Commission voted to approve this location as submitted.

Finally, at 61-63 Berkeley St., Brinn said this is also an “Arietta design…these are probably the most common design I’ve seen up until now.” He said this one will be around 28 feet when replaced, which is similar to what is existing, though it will be “a little bit bigger to support ad-ditional weight.” The existing concrete pole will again be replaced with a steel one that will be painted black with the equipment on the pole and the antenna on the top.

The Commission voted to approve this as submitted as well.  

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