A group of abutters is challenging AT&T's right to build a 120-foot-tall monopole telecommunications tower at two sites on town-owned land at Sharon's 411 East Foxboro St.
Sharon town meeting voters have not re-zoned that town property for such a use or authorized selectmen to lease the site to AT&T, attorney Christopher Heep, representing the residents, told Sharon Zoning Board of Appeals Acting Chairman Kevin McCarville in a letter Tuesday.
The letter prompted the ZBA tonight to continue its public hearing on AT&T's proposal to Jan. 25 to allow town counsel to review the abutters' issues and offer feedback. AT&T also has applied for approval at 68 Mohawk St., its preferred site.
McCarville had anticipated the board voting tonight, before receiving Heep's letter.
McCarville told a standing-room-only audience in the upstairs meeting room that he had seen Heep's letter "for the first time this afternoon."
"In light of this new information, which seems significant, I think it's worthy of review," McCarville said.
The news came after attorney Edward Pare, representing AT&T, presented responses to issues raised during the ZBA's discussion in early November. McCarville limited technical questions from the audience to new matters. Pare said AT&T was finished with the technical side of its presentation.
Heep, in his letter, wrote that Sharon hasn't followed the process for allowing such a tower on part of the site, which has Sharon Well 6.
Sharon took the land by eminent domain in February 1973 per a 1972 annual town meeting vote authorizing selectmen to "'purchase, or take by eminent domain proceedings, for water supply purposes,'" Heep wrote.
Voters at the 2011 Annual Town Meeting changed the use to "water supply or general municipal purposes," he wrote.
"Although the vote on Article 13 may have made the Property available for a broader range of municipal uses, it certainly did not authorize AT&T to use the Property to construct and operate its private telecommunications tower," Heep wrote.
Sharon also cannot use the site for other than water resources without approval of the Legislature, Heep wrote.
"To my knowledge, approval of the Legislature was never sought or granted," he wrote.