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Recent Articles

Residents Clash with Utilities Commission Over Cell Tower Proposal

More than 100 New Canaan residents gathered at Town Hall Monday night to express their thoughts and ask questions regarding the Utilities Commission’s preliminary proposal to build cell phone towers at Irwin Park and West School in efforts to improve service in the north and west sections of the town. The meeting, which opened the floor to the public and was in session for more than three hours, was at times tense and acrimonious as residents and commission members clashed over how the process has gone thus far and how it could affect the town in both the short- and long-term. Utilities Commission Chairman Tom Tesluk opened with a presentation extensively detailing the plans for the proposed cell towers, but stressed that the purpose of the meeting was to garner feedback from residents and provide an opportunity for the consultants hired by the town for the project the chance to answer questions. He also reiterated that the official decision on the construction of the towers would ultimately be up to the Town Council and not the commission. “There has been a certain sense in this town, at a point, that maybe this is a done deal, maybe there’s been a Pearl Harbor sneak attack of powers, but I promise you there hasn’t,” he told the crowd. Continue Reading →

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Commission Seeks Feedback On Cell Tower Proposal

New Canaan residents are invited to public hearing to be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Town Hall to share their views on a proposal from the Utilities Commission to install 110-foot tall cellular towers at Irwin Park and West School. For the past several years the Utilities Commission, under the direction of the Board of Selectmen, has been studying various approaches to improving wireless coverage in town. The northern sections of New Canaan, in particular the northwest quadrant, suffer from serious wireless coverage gaps—some as large as 10 square miles—due to the town’s unique topography. Not only is this an inconvenience for residents, it also presents a serious public safety risk, as the town’s police, fire and EMS services all rely on cellular technology for emergency communications. During Thursday’s Town Council meeting, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said “there have been incidents in the past where people have tried to make 911 calls from the north section of town and have not been able to get through.” He said a few months ago, a tradesman who was working in the northwest corner of town seriously injured his leg and almost bled to death because he was unable to reach 911 using his cell phone. “There have also been incidents of motor vehicle accidents where people couldn’t get through,” Krolikowski told the council members, adding that people who have been in accidents have sometimes had to “drive toward town until they get a signal.”

Wendy Dixon Fog, captain of New Canaan EMS, added that emergency medical technicians rely on the cellular network to get data and information about patients while they are on scene or in transit. Continue Reading →

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‘A Major Setback’: New Canaan Officials Withdraw Application for Monopole in Stamford To Improve Public Safety Radio Coverage

Facing opposition from neighborhood residents, town officials said Wednesday that they’re withdrawing an application to erect a tower just over the Stamford border that had been designed to improve emergency radio communications in northwestern New Canaan. The decision followed conversations that included the highest elected officials of both municipalities and a city representative of the north Stamford residents who live near a proposed monopole on Aquarion property, according to New Canaan Police Commission Chairman Stuart Sawabini. The upshot was that “it would be extremely unlikely that the city of Stamford would ever approve an antenna” on the corner of Reservoir Lane and Laurel Road (see map below), Sawabini said during a regular meeting of the Police Commission. The development “was a major setback, sadly,” Sawabini said at the meeting, held in the training room at the New Canaan Police Department. “We have other locations that we had considered and rejected, but that we are reopening for reconsideration. Continue Reading →

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

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. Continue Reading →

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‘Maybe There Is a Better Area’: Neighbors Voice Concerns about Prospect of Cell Towers at Irwin Park, West School

Kevin Clark, a resident of Wahackme Road, built his house 20 years ago, past the footpath that loops around the back of a 36-acre parcel known to New Canaanites today as Irwin Park. When locals debated the acquisition of that parcel as public land, Clark recalled, he sided with those in favor of the purchase “because [former First Selectman] Judy Neville and the Town Council assured us that it would be set aside as beautiful parkland and preserve the integrity of the landscape and preserve the integrity of the quiet residential community that has existed there for 100 years.”

Faced now with the prospect of a 110-foot cell tower near the park’s southwest corner—a draft plan whose development has been overseen by the New Canaan Utilities Commission—Clark said he is concerned that those assurances had been hollow. “I do not think any of you would want an 11-story tower in your backyard,” Clark told members of the Utilities Commission during their regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “Where it is sited right now, I will open my shade in the morning when I wake up in my bedroom and I will see the tower. It is just not the way a town like New Canaan should act—in a responsible way for its citizens. Continue Reading →

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