Though residents and town officials this summer called for more community input regarding the plan, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan on Tuesday laid out a schedule for municipal bodies to take up a proposed cell tower behind West School.
Verizon “has come forward wanting to put a tower on the west side of town,” Moynihan told members of the Board of Finance at their regular meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
“Specifically, in the town property of the 47 acres on Ponus Ridge,” Moynihan continued, referring to 769 Ponus Ridge. “We are going to come back with two proposals and this will go to P&Z at the end of the month. One would be 1,000 feet behind West School. The other would be at the other end of the property at Llewelyn [Drive], which is a cul-de-sac, in the woods. So P&Z will [inaudible] on that, making a decision. Llewelyn would probably be required to be 50 feet taller, because it’s a property that slopes off a lot. So that’s in motion.”
Moynihan appeared to be referring to Section 8-24 of the Connecticut General Statutes. Under the state law, a report is required of the local Planning & Zoning Commission for a town to “locate or extend public utilities and terminals for water, sewerage, light, power, transit and other purposes.” If the proposal is “disapproved” by P&Z, the Commission is to send its reasoning to the Town Council, which then may approve the proposal by a two-thirds vote “or a majority vote of those present and voting in an annual or special town meeting,” the law says.
The proposed 125-foot “monopine” tower for West School has been met with strong opposition among many parents and neighbors. They have urged the selectmen to study alternative technologies, accused Moynihan of deceitful practices, raised health-related concerns with respect to children and asserted that cellular coverage on the west side is already adequate. They also have questioned whether the town has already reached an agreement with consulting firm Homeland Towers regarding placement of the cell tower on West School property.
During Tuesday’s meeting, finance board member Judy Neville asked how far from the school the proposed tower would be located. When Moynihan responded, “A quarter of a mile,” Neville said, “That would be more acceptable to parents.”
Yet parents have been upset by any proposed cell tower at the school.
When Moynihan in July tried to get the full Board of Selectmen to discuss and vote on a draft lease between the town and Homeland Towers regarding the proposed cell tower, Selectmen Nick Williams and Kathleen Corbet pushed back, calling for a larger community discussion after Labor Day. (The topic of the cell tower did not come up at the selectmen’s Sept. 6 meeting, which featured a presentation from Town Attorney Ira Bloom.)
The selectmen are scheduled to meet again Sept. 20. P&Z’s regular meeting this month is scheduled for Sept. 27. The Town Council’s regular meeting next month is scheduled for Oct. 19.
The Connecticut Siting Council currently is reviewing the town’s application to erect a cell tower at 1837 Ponus Ridge.