Op-Ed: St. Luke’s Neighbor Opposes Cell Tower on Private Residential Property

Print More

Mr. Keith Richey wrote a long Op-Ed yesterday [Feb. 23] in NewCanaanite.com explaining his rationale for erecting a cell tower on his residence in New Canaan. Foremost, let me say on behalf of our neighborhood (Soundview and Hidden Meadow Lanes, as well as Laurel, North Wilton and Deep Valley Roads, as well as extended neighbors) that his facts are simply wrong.

Keith and Marina Richey did nothing to inform their neighbors, including St. Luke’s School, of their intentions, plans and negotiations to build a cell tower with Homeland Towers. This lack of transparency is astonishing for a community that prides itself on neighborly civility. For the record, we as neighbors first learned of the Richeys’ plans mid February, and it was not until they were called out that the Richeys came clean with their cell tower lease. In fact their site plans show planning for the cell tower early in 2017 with revisions starting in August of 2017.

Mr. Richey can wax eloquent on his rationale for “saving” the neighborhood from St. Luke’s School planning a cell tower on their property and helping us by negotiating his own deal. The fact remains that St. Luke’s School had no plans to erect a cell tower on their property. St. Luke’s has gone on record to this point and has further questioned the lack of due process employed here, calling the town to look for alternative sites. Yet the Richeys seized the day (and presumably the financial opportunity) to “protect” us all. If you are a resident of New Canaan, ask yourself what precedent this sets for your street and neighborhood. Now can any resident secretly do a deal with a cell tower concern, benefitting from financial gains at your expense? And I might add with potential risks to the health of your family and certain risks to your property values?

Per First Selectman [Kevin] Moynihan’s position in this week’s New Canaan Advertiser, which appears to support this unprecedented private residential cell tower deal, let me say that we as a neighborhood feel betrayed. We were not part of the conversation even though the town had led conversations in our neighborhood, unbeknownst to us, on lease opportunities dating back to early 2017. These are not the town values we bought into. We are typical citizens. We commute and work for our families each day. The town government’s job is to represent the public. We have to date had no say in this unprecedented move to erect a cell tower that not only threatens neighborhoods, but which is also only 250 feet away from student classrooms at St. Luke’s School.

The lack of transparency in all of this is astonishing and should be an alarm bell for every New Canaan resident.

Hugh Wiley, a concerned neighbor and 30-year resident of New Canaan

13 thoughts on “Op-Ed: St. Luke’s Neighbor Opposes Cell Tower on Private Residential Property

  1. Actually, everything I said in my editorial is entirely correct.

    The cell tower, if one is erected under the Lease Option Agreement that I signed, will only be 85 feet high, with concealment material adding another 5 feet maximum. It will be surrounded by evergreen and deciduous trees some of which are 65+ feet tall. None of my neighbors apart from SLS should be able to see it. If they can see a few feet of it, it will just look like another tree. According to the science available, it should not harm anyone’s health. In fact, having a cell tower closer to someone leads to lower radio frequency transmission levels which would reduce the risk, if there were any, but there is none. It should not affect anyone’s property values.

    There has been a lot of talk about creating a “precedent” and that this would be the first cell tower on private property in New Canaan. In fact, I believe every cell tower in New Canaan is on privately owned property – the water tower is on property owned by Aquarion, the cell tower on 123 is owned by the Country Club, the cell tower on Valley Road is on property owned by Silver Hill, and the cell towers on the buildings in downtown New Canaan are on private property. Certainly the ones at Silver Hill and the CCNC would be considered to be within neighborhoods. It is my understanding that the town wanted each of these cell towers, and as my editorial should have made clear, I was assured that the town wanted and wants this one. Therefore, there is no new precedent being created. Also please note that the process for all of these towers was generally the same as will be for the one at the end of the cul-de-sac on Soundview Lane. There is no review by P&Z or any town agency – the decisions are solely that of the Connecticut Siting Council and they won’t address the issue until a carrier has entered into a lease – and none have.

    Please do not be confused by the misinformation being spread around and please don’t succumb to the arm twisting being exerted. The cell tower will be a good thing. None of you will see it unless you are a few feet away, it will improve your cell service and safety, (EMT, Fire, Police). There should be zero impact on the property values of anyone on Soundview Lane or elsewhere (except possibly higher due to better cell service).

    Also, please consider that I made concessions to get the smallest and most concealed tower design and that my house is on the end of a cul-de-sac surrounded by woods and playing fields – there is no better location. I have been a volunteer member of town government for almost twenty years and involved in leadership roles in many organizations in town, I assure you that the best interests of the town of New Canaan and of my neighbors was forefront in my mind during the entire negotiations. I believe the tower will do nothing but good and there is no real reason to believe otherwise.

    You can judge the objectives of the opponents for yourself.

    I am not going anywhere. I plan to stay in my home after I retire and anyone who knows me has heard me say that for some time. If the little faux tree cell tower is ever constructed, we will all see how innocuous it is and this brouhaha will die down.

  2. There was no sneaking around and no “wild west” and no one went off the reservation – I informed every town official with a legitimate interest and all were supportive as it is in the best interest of New Canaan.

    The negotiations between me and Homeland Towers were confidential as all negotiations between a private landowner and anyone are. Would you want the details of your negotiations to sell or rent your property made public? Would you want your neighbors to be involved? The cell tower negotiations by CCNC, Silver Hill, Acquarion, the buildings downtown also were also not public. Those sites are also privately owned.

    It is the high elevation, the topography, and isolation which is what caused my property and SLS to be called “the best sites in New Canaan” for a cell tower to serve our part of town by the engineering firm hired by the town to evaluate sites. Thus, the idea that anyone can call a cell tower company and have a CT put on their property is nonsense. A carrier only wants a tower where there is no coverage and which has the right elevation and topography and least impact.

    Please do not be blinded by the arm and fact twisting of the NIMBY crowd. They have no sensible arguments.

  3. And don’t forget Thrush Lane with its abysmal cell phone coverage. In the interest of public safety and social responsibility, the Town of New Canaan must avail itself to the most up to date communications available.

    I have lived here for 36 years. So what! Yesterday is yesterday, today and and tomorrow are the future of New Canaan.

    I am sick and tired of not being able to communicate during emergency situations such as: landline does not work, electricity is off, trees down on road and driveway, health crises. And let us not forget the woman trapped inside her burning car on Laurel and a passerby couldn’t get reception to the police. Fortunately, the passerby was finally able to get her out. Unusual situation, but emergencies are, just by definition.

    And,guess what? We will have a beautiful Ct. faux redwood. Thank you Mr. Richey

  4. Dear Mimi – please look into it – my understanding is that the tower will support areas within .5 miles for data and 1.0 miles for voice. So not sure it will help Thrush Lane.

  5. Dear Mimi – The source is the coverage maps submitted by TMobile and AT&T to the Ct Siting Council. Under pending proceedings page of the CSC website you will find the dockets and the submissions in their application packages available online

    • Mimi, regarding Mr. Richey’s claim of 22 miles of coverage, ask yourself why then the Silver Hill and New Canaan Country Club towers wouldn’t solve the Town’s coverage issues? Multiple private cell towers will come to unsuspecting neighbors doorsteps based on this precedent if allowed to happen. As for Mr. Richey’s self described “little faux tree” it is after all a 90 foot tall steel tower with a 2000 square foot house at its base.

    • Took some time to find something relevant to New Canaan on this topic but it exists. In their January 2015 presentation, the New Canaan Utilities Commission said the range was 0.4 to 1.6 miles in New Canaan depending upon the frequency and whether the cell user is in a car, building, or outdoors. They did not specify whether it was for voice or data.

      The Utilities Commission presentation will be available on soundviewcelltower.com in a day or so. One can also find the American Cancer Society and Harvard studies on the health issue.

  6. If the new cell tower is well hidden, assures greater health and safety for those who do not have this modern protection, then what is the problem ? I am sure that well wishing New Canaanites will want their neighbors to have the same protection as they do. Obviously, the other cell towers fail in this.

    • Dear all,
      The base station is as small is dimensions as I could negotiate and is the roughly the same size as the ones on 123 and in Silver Hill. Go have a look for yourself at the existing ones to judge the size and height (easily screened by a typical stockade fence).

      • We all love stockade fences Keith. Do not think the siting Council can override the 4 foot local fence limitation

  7. I am happy to hear that cell service will be available at the cost of AT&T, although I think Mr. Richie would do himself a service in the long run by acknowledging that he is probably enriching himself in the process. As worthy as Mr. Richies goals are, it is very easy to read all of his arguments as a defense of the check he will inevitably get in the mail. Mr. Richie, if you wish not to appear the miser, acknowledge or correct this statement.

Leave a Reply to Keith Richey Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *