Coastal Stewards Delaware

Coastal Stewards

Delaware Online Article: Verizon agreed to move some of its beachfront 5G poles. Where does that leave Dewey Beach?

Delaware Online ran the following story linked below, byline of Emily Lytle.

Key Point: “if the town and its residents have shown anything over the past year, and earlier, it’s that they’re not afraid to take a stand for Dewey Beach and its landscape.” 

See full article here 

Coastal Stewards will continue to help Dewey Beach navigate this difficult process.

Verizon Pole in Dewey Beach

They are Back… Verizon Construction Without Notice or Town Permits Again

“No Notice” Pattern Repeated Multiple Times in Past Six months by Verizon

In yet another town permit violation and in what also appears to be a state permit violation, on November 8, 2021 Verizon contractors surprised residents and town officials of Dewey Beach by installing pole top hardware, this time 4G instead of 5g equipment at Read Ave and RT 1, on a pole it had installed prior without a town permit.

Verizon’s latest installation met their same pattern of prior installs, including all their beach pole installations: work without a town permit, work during the offseason when it would be less noticed, blocking off lanes of traffic, and installing equipment above the town’s height limit, and with other nearby existing alternatives available. DelDOT confirmed that Verizon was required to notify the town prior to installation, and there may be more significant violations given the pole permit may have expired 18 months ago.

The DelDOT permit for the pole was issued in June of 2019, including specifications for the new height of nearly 50 feet and for the 4G antenna. But according to DelDOT, the issuing agency, the construction on a 5G small cell pole is to be done within one year of the issuance date. According to DelDOT’s public information office, telecoms can, of course, do maintenance work on poles without obtaining another permit.  However, Verizon’s addition of a 4G antenna involved heavy equipment and construction to install a whole new antenna where one had not been installed before the permit expired, and on neither occasion did Verizon obtain a Town permit.

Why it matters

It’s the latest in the ongoing saga of Verizon placing poles and technology with little to no communication, and in violation of town municipal and federal laws. The town requires permits for any construction in floodplain areas, as does a federal environmental rule, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

And as shown in this photo, plenty of co-location options on poles in the median on structures above 50′ already exist on state light posts and transmission towers, as is commonly done in other areas. There was no clear need for a new pole raise to 50′. Co-location is required by the legislation HR 189.

When questioned by the Dewey Town Manager, the Verizon contractors said they were acting under the authority of the DelDOT permit. The State had issued a permit for the pole almost two and a half (2 ½) years ago so the Verizon contractor may have been referring to that permit.  Why it was just added now is unclear, as 4G capability has existed in town for years out of sight on the water towers, as explained above

Separate from the eleven poles Verizon installed in late 2020 without town notice, including four on the beachfront in Dewey, this unannounced construction marks at least the third time in the past six months Verizon has ignored the need for town permits, according to the Dewey Beach town manager Bill Zolper in an email November 11. Zolper also said that DelDOT has told the town it is not their responsibility to inform the town and the telecom is supposed to inform the town. The other two locations where work has been done recently without notifying the town are Rt. 1 and New Orleans Street, and Rt. 1 and Dickinson Street.

It’s yet another signal that the telecom giant’s strategy has been to ignore town regulations, need for permits, failing to comply with longstanding environmental rules which apply to all pole installations including NEPA mentioned above and NHPA which protects areas of significant historical importance over 50 years old such as the Dewey Lifesaving station land.  

Corporate cost savings at the expense of seascape

The new equipment installed appears to be the same 4G antenna technology that Verizon already has installed on the nearby county water tower, which is labeled Dewey Beach, on which Verizon and other telecoms pay to lease space.

At one point, the purpose of the construction was said to replace existing equipment on an existing pole near Read Avenue, overlooking the Little Store in the center of town. [Photo} But clearly it was a new installation of what appears to be a 4G antenna, raising the question of why Verizon is installing redundant equipment, the answer may be that they can get an entire pole in Dewey for far less as indicated below. 

Verizon and other telecommunication companies have for years leased space on the water tower for their cellular antennae. But the new Verizon poles popping up in town without notice require Verizon to pay the state of Delaware a $100 fee for a 10-year lease to the State agency DelDOT.  In addition to the revenue, the existing water tower has provided a more ideal, unobtrusive location for the telecom antennas. It is not known what other telecoms will follow Verizon’s move.

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Coin Beach Poles

Coin Beach, named due to 1875 Shipwreck just north of bridge, surfing area

Coin beach was named as a result of copper coins washing up on the shore in the past 30 years from the shipwreck of the Faithful Steward in 1785. See the Faithful Steward post. Coin Beach as well as eight other spots in the Seashore State Park now have 50ft poles on the ocean side of the road, all installed by Verizon in 2020, during the pandemic.