Town Officials Push for Studies, Survey Prior to Decisions on West School Cell Tower

The town is preparing to hire consultants to provide two studies to help municipal officials determine whether to move forward with a widely discussed plan to erect a cell tower behind West School. Following recommendations that the Planning & Zoning Commission made during an Oct. 24 special meeting, the town is to get “independent” studies to establish cell phone needs in the area and the degree of health risk that a tower 900 feet behind West School (and 600 feet from its playing fields) will have to children there. It’s unclear which consulting firms will be hired to carry out the assessments. 

Regarding the coverage study, Selectman Williams last week tried to pin down First Selectman Kevin Moynihan about whether the Town Council or Board of Selectmen would make the decision, but Moynihan said only that he planned to ask a firm hired in the past—Centerline—“to update their report.”

When Williams suggested a firm other than Centerline do the independent study, Moyinhan said, “Centerline is independent” and that he has “no reason to think they’re not independent,” though if the Town Council feels otherwise, “we can take a different direction.”

Though several members of P&Z voiced opposition to locating a cell tower on school grounds, they narrowed the scope of their referral on Oct. 24 to whether or not the proposed infrastructure is consistent with a continuously updated document that guides planning in New Canaan—the Plan of Conservation and Development—and found that it does.

Divided P&Z Nears Decision on Library

During their seventh hearing on New Canaan Library’s application to rebuild its facility, members of the Planning & Zoning Commission last week set up a vote between two options regarding the fate of what remains of an original library building. One of them, tagged “Option A” and developed mainly by P&Z Chair John Goodwin, would allow for the library project to commence and, one year in, the organization would present options to P&Z to “appropriately commemorate” the 1913 building and 1936 addition. “It is the assumption that significant aspects of the 1913 and/or 1936 building will be preserved in some meaningful way on the site,” according to the language of the draft approval, obtained by through a public records request. The other, “Option B,” developed mainly by Commissioner Dan Radman, calls for construction to be put off until the library has submitted a plan to “incorporate and integrate” the east and north facades and roof of the old buildings so that they’re “maintained on the site in a location satisfactory to the Commission.” If there’s “no feasible way” to do that, the project can start without a plan for preservation, under draft Option B.

As drafted for the start of the meeting, neither scenario meets the standard set by a preservation group that has said the 1913 building must be restored—that is, its southern and western walls re-closed—and remain in place. Library officials last month said they’d be willing to preserve and move the Main Street-facing portico and facade of the 1913 building to the western property line. 

The language in both options is expected to undergo revision based on the commissioners’ discussion at the 4.5-hour meeting, held June 29 via videoconference.