Online Petition Opposing Cell Tower Proposal Garners 100-Plus Digital Signatures

Aerial Image of Proposed Tower’s proximity to West Elementary School

More than 100 digital signatures have been added to an online petition urging residents to oppose an early-stage proposal to improve cell service in New Canaan by installing towers in a public park and on school grounds.

Posted through a Change.org account with an anonymous username, the petition describes the proposed 110-foot towers as “gigantic monopoles”—though just what type of towers they would be, if approved, is undecided—that will spoil views and property values.

Though neighbors who attended a public meeting this week of the Utilities Commission—the advisory group of volunteer residents charged with proposing ways to improve cell service in New Canaan—put questions and concerns about the towers directly to its members, the petition makes the assertion that “the town will not allow the safety of these towers to be debated, believing that the government’s proclamation of their safety has laid that argument to rest.”

In truth, the Town Council is expected to hear from the Utilities Commission at its own April 20 meeting. During their meeting Wednesday night, members of the Town Council discussed the best way to sequence and accomplish the twin goals of supplying information to residents and soliciting their feedback—preferably in that order, in hopes that accomplishing one may improve the other.

Unsigned by its author, the petition appears under the rather ambitious username ‘New Canaan Residents, Tax Payers and Voters.’ It had garnered 129 signatures as of early Thursday evening, and among those who commented on the petition, more than 80 percent identified themselves as New Canaan residents. Many of the comments express fears about what those who wrote them describe as potential health effects of cell towers in proximity to a school.

According to the petition, some towns “have passed ordinances not allowing [cell towers] within 750 to 1,500 feet of a school or daycare.”

According to Danbury-based Homeland Towers LLC, the proposed tower on West School grounds would be located about 580 feet from the school building itself. In Connecticut, according to an April 1 report prepared for New Canaan by Homeland Towers (viewable here), at least 20 schools—from nursery schools to high schools, including in Wilton and Weston—have cell sites located closer to them than that, as follows:

Existing Cell Sites and Their Proximity to Schools

TownSchoolTower HeightDistance from school buliding
PortlandPortland High School105'20'
SimsburyCentral School150'20'
StamfordBrookdale Nursery School55'25'
PortlandPortland Middle School80'190'
ManchesterIlling Middle School190'190'
WestonHurlbutt Elementary School95'200'
BridgeportCentral High School144'210'
BridgeportWarren Harding High School50'213'
New HavenYeshivas Beis Dovid Shlomo School240'253'
BridgeportPark City Magnet School160'270'
TollandTolland High School150'289'
OxfordQuaker Farms School145'327'
New HartfordAnn Antolini School120'350'
New BritainPulaski Middle School120'400'
BurlingtonLake Garda Elementary School50'470'
New HavenYeshiva Elementary School123'482'
StratfordChapel School140'534'
KillingwoodKillingworth Elementary School165'551'
WiltonMiller Driscoll School165'571'
WaterfordDual Language Arts Academy180'575'
*Source: Homeland Towers LLC

 

The list does not include St. Aloysius School in New Canaan, which is located one block from the Frontier building at Cherry and Main Streets.

The petition floats a question as to whether, when a prospective resident visits New Canaan, whether that person will “choose the town with the cell towers looming over its elementary school and parks, or just drive on to Darien or Greenwich or Westport?”

The unsigned petition includes an uncaptioned photo of a poorly made, conspicuous cell tower. It asserts in capital letters: “There are other ways to improve cell phone coverage.”

Accomplishing exactly that has been a priority of New Canaan’s volunteer Utilities Commission for many years. The draft proposal to site the cell towers at West School and Irwin Park (with a better option at the New Canaan Nature Center, commissioners have said)—follows a fundamental change in the way the town went about landing on a proposal for improving cell service. Namely, New Canaan hired consultants to map the town’s coverage needs—rather than relying on carriers or tower developers—and looked to town-owned property rather than private land as possible sites for cellular infrastructure. According to the Utilities Commission, that gives New Canaan more control over the final design and height of proposed cell towers, which must be approved by a state agency in addition to municipal officials.

The draft proposal to site the cell towers at West School and Irwin Park (with a better option at the New Canaan Nature Center, commissioners have said)—follows a fundamental change in the way the town went about landing on a proposal for improving cell service. Namely, New Canaan hired consultants to map the town’s coverage needs—rather than relying on carriers or tower developers—and looked to town-owned property rather than private land as possible sites for cellular infrastructure. According to the Utilities Commission, that gives New Canaan more control over the final design and height of proposed cell towers, which must be approved by a state agency in addition to municipal officials. Right now, the commission is waiting for digitally created images that will show what a proposed cell tower would look like at each site.

The petition urges New Canaanites to write to the selectmen and councilmen with their concerns, and to push for alternatives to cell towers as a way to boost service.

“Many, many towns have found these solutions,” the petition said. “People do not move to a town for good cell reception, they move to New Canaan for its excellent schools, beautiful parks, and its small town New England charm.”

6 thoughts on “Online Petition Opposing Cell Tower Proposal Garners 100-Plus Digital Signatures

  1. New Canaan and surrounding towns WILL NEVER have decent cell service until towns stand up and allow towers to be put up on public lands. All across New Canaan, Wilton and other towns cell service has many, many dead spots. 100 Signatures in a town of 17K doesn’t seem to be very consequential. Of course its understandable that folks near these proposed sites have concerns, but both sites have sufficient acreage to minimize any impact on a neighborhood. Get a backbone town governments.

  2. Same old story after all these years, we need better cell service. BUT not in my back yard…………. Lets get the towers up already…………

    • Yup the same old saw… better cell service, more parking and
      the soon to arrive natural gas. Three items that would benefit
      many but three items that generations of New Canaan town leaders have talked about but have never delivered on.

  3. Dear Editor,
    It should be no surprise that when you ask a company with “Tower” in its name, you will get data that allegedly supports tower construction. Regrettably, there are three shortcomings with this approach: (i) people moved to New Canaan because of the schools, the bucolic nature of the town and the simple fact they can make the decision to live here; (ii) New Canaan is utterly not comparable to the overwhelming majority of towns cited from any economic, demographic and real estate valuation measurement; and (iii) if New Canaanites desired to sell their expensive homes in NC and buy less expensive homes in communities with towers (including some on school/park property) they could. It should be obvious New Canaan residents do not want towers near their homes, schools, parks and other valuable town assets. Full stop.
    As far schools and commercial buildings in downtown New Canaan are concerned, there are no towers (only unobtrusive rooftop antennas which are not as powerful as towers) even though the location cited is about as commercial as it can be in New Canaan. If there was a tower there, many would not have moved to NC in the first place because most would question the aesthetic values of existing residents.
    You may appear to take issue with the “anonymous” nature of the petition. Many do not think forks who sponsored and/or signed that survey are hiding, unlike many of the authors who have commented on, for example, limited risk radiation arguments. Many would encourage you to publish real names/streets of all contributors.
    Finally, since New Canaan has been compared to less compelling communities such as Bridgeport, why not compare NC to more comparable communities. Here are a few. They all improved communications without towers:

    Table

    Can you imagine the outrage you would feel if one of your neighbors illogically signed a ground lease for a tower next to your backyard and crushed your viewshed and property value? Take a photo of Silver hill neighbors’ homes from the street for a good data point of a “stealth” tower. How could the Town of New Canaan become “that neighbor” who signs ground leases for 110’ towers? The solution to all of this is a few true flag pole antennas in front of municipal buildings and the public utility right of way. The latter is happening as we speak. We do not need to accommodate all the carriers in the USA. Just two to maintain competition (and shorter equipment needs). If NC remains cohesive, the telecommunications world will come to the realization that NC is a lot different than those communities who have suffered new towers. We need to keep our interests in mind, not the interests of vendors. Truly comparable towns have done just that.

  4. New Canaan needs cell towers. Period. Everyone wants to debate until they pass out exactly where they should go. That is ridiculous. Cell towers DON’T cause cancer no matter what anyone says. Put the damn things up already. People move to New Canaan for the parks, nice schools, all that quaint stuff. But they also don’t expect to go back to the dark ages in terms of technology and cell service. I certainly didn’t. Enough with everyone complaining about where the towers will go. Put them up and if people have an issue with them they can move.

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