CSC: Barkhamstead Docket No 182a Opinion

 
DOCKET NO. 182A - Sprint Spectrum, L.P. d/b/a Sprint PCS and 
Litchfield Acquisition Corporation d/b/a AT&T Wireless Services 
amendment to the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and 
Public Need for the existing telecommunications facility located 
31 New Hartford Road (access via Rust Road), Barkhamsted, 
Connecticut. 
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Connecticut

Siting

Council

May 7, 2002

Opinion

On November 8, 2001, Sprint Spectrum L.P. d/b/a Sprint PCS (Sprint) and Litchfield Acquisition Corporation d/b/a AT&T Wireless Services (AT&T) submitted an amendment to a Connecticut Siting Council (Council) Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (Certificate) for the existing telecommunications facility located off the end of Rust Road in the Town of Barkhamsted, Connecticut.  Sprint and AT&T propose to extend the height of the existing tower which would be consistent with the Councilís charge to promote shared use of existing facilities and avoid the unnecessary proliferation of towers in the State as mandated by General Statute ß 16-50aa.

The existing facility is owned and operated by AT&T and consists of a 124-foot monopole tower camouflaged as a tree, 50-foot by 50-foot fenced compound, three single story equipment buildings, underground utilities, and a gravel access road.  On June 25, 1998, the Council issued a Certificate for construction of this facility to accommodate AT&T, Nextel, and SNET. The Council ordered that the monopole tower be camouflaged as a tree to mitigate far-field visual impacts which is well suited within a forested area on a ridge.

Sprint proposes to extend the existing tower to a total height of 148 feet and maintain the tower as a camouflaged tree.  Sprint would install antennas with a centerline elevation of 144 feet above ground level (AGL) and place equipment on a concrete foundation within the fenced compound.  A four-foot bracket at the top of the tower would support artificial tree branching.  AT&T proposes to relocate its existing antennas from a centerline elevation of 120 feet to 134 feet AGL.  Nextel would convert its existing whip antennas to panel antennas and relocate them from a centerline elevation of 127 feet to 124 feet AGL.  Lastly, SNET would relocate its existing panel antennas from a centerline elevation of 110 feet to 114 feet AGL. This rearrangement of antennas would provide better coverage for all carriers and allow for additional sharing in the future; consequently, the Council supports the proposed antenna configuration.

Extending the height of the tower would allow Sprint to share the existing facility, and expand and improve Sprintís telecommunications services in the area.  The modified tower would also improve AT&Tís existing coverage in the Barkhamsted area, particularly along portions of U.S. Route 44, a major highway in Litchfield County. In addition, the modified facility would expand and improve service to portions of State Routes 181, 219, and 318 in the Towns of Barkhamsted and New Hartford.

The existing site contains no inland wetlands, or watercourses.  There are no known or existing populations of federal or State endangered, threatened or special concern species occurring on the site.  There are no other environmental constraints at this site.

The existing facility is within an industrially zoned area, which is a preferred location for telecommunications towers by the Town.  Furthermore, the facility is within a large property that offers a great amount of screening by mature trees, and is remote to residences.  Even though the height of the existing structure will increase by 24 feet it would be camouflaged as a tree.  Also, this stealth application as a tree is compatible with tower sharing, and is an appropriate mechanism to mitigate visual effects on adjacent scenic resources; therefore, we will order that the proposed 24-foot extension be camouflaged as a tree.

The Council has carefully analyzed and considered propagation coverage for Sprint at various heights to determine the best coverage with the least environmental effect.  Because the proposed tower in Barkhamsted is part of an integrated wireless system and would be handing-off traffic with adjacent sites including a proposed extension at an existing tower in New Hartford, we have considered this decision in conjunction with the facility in New Hartford.  Our intent is to balance the development of high quality wireless telecommunications infrastructure on a regional basis with provisions to protect the community and environment from the development of unnecessary or inadequate facilities.  With this regional perspective, we find that Sprintís coverage at 144 feet AGL would be substantially improved. Consequently, the need to develop new towers would be greatly reduced or possibly eliminated in the Barkhamsted/New Hartford area.

Electromagnetic radio frequency power density levels are a concern of the Council.  However, the radio frequency power densities at the base of the proposed facility would be below federal and State standards for the frequencies used by the wireless companies.  If federal or State standards change, we will require that this tower be brought into compliance with such standards.

Based on the record in this proceeding, we find that the effects associated with the 24-foot extension to the existing telecommunications facility, including effects on the natural environment; ecological integrity and balance; public health and safety; scenic, historic, and recreational values; forests and parks; air and water purity; and fish and wildlife are not disproportionate either alone or cumulatively with other effects when compared to need, are not in conflict with policies of the State concerning such effects, and are not sufficient reason to deny the proposed amendment to the Certificate. Therefore, we will approve the amendment to the Certificate for the extension of the existing tower, installation of antennas for Sprint, AT&T, Nextel, and SNET, and placement of Sprintís equipment within the existing compound located at the end of Rust Road in Barkhamsted, Connecticut.



Content Last Modified on 10/9/2002 11:19:08 AM