CSC: Cheshire Docket No. 199 Opinion

DOCKET NO. 199 - Crown Atlantic Company LLC and Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance and operation of a cellular telecommunications facility at 1119 Summit Road, Cheshire, Connecticut. }






April 12, 2001


On December 1, 2000, Crown Atlantic Company LLC (Crown) and Cellco Partnership (Cellco) d/b/a Verizon Wireless applied to the Connecticut Siting Council (Council) for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (Certificate) to construct, operate, and maintain a cellular telecommunications facility at 1119 Summit Road, Cheshire, Connecticut. Subsequently, AT&T Wireless Services, Inc. (AT&T) intervened in the proceeding and expressed a willingness to share either the proposed prime or alternate telecommunications facility. The purpose of the proposed facility is to expand and improve existing cellular and wireless telecommunications services in the Cheshire area, particularly along portions of I-84, and State Route 70.

The public need for cellular telephone facilities has been determined both by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 which has declared a general public need for wireless service, established a market structure for system development, and developed technical standards that have restricted the design of facilities. These pre-emptive determinations by the FCC have resulted in a system of numerous cellular telecommunications facilities in nearly all areas of the country.  Connecticut State law directs the Council to balance the need for development of proposed cellular telecommunications facilities with the need to protect the environment, including public health and safety.

The Council only approves the construction of a new tower if: no other alternative to share an existing tower or structure exists; the Council finds a technical need for a new tower at a particular site based on a detailed analysis of propagation, capacity, signal strength, and facility sharing; and the need for the facility outweighs the environmental effects of the facility after a detailed analysis of the effects on scenic resources, land use, ecological resources, and human health determined through worst-case modeling of radio frequency power density consistent with federal guidelines.  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.  Federal law and State law and policy support this practice.

The Council has carefully analyzed and considered propagation coverage from both Cellco and AT&T, environmental effects, use of existing structures, and tower sharing to identify sites that would provide the best coverage with the least effects on the public. The proposed prime or alternate tower in Cheshire would be part of an integrated cellular system and would alleviate a gap in coverage along I-84 and also would hand-off traffic with adjacent cell sites. The modification of existing facilities and/or the use of existing towers could not achieve the desired coverage along I-84.

The proposed prime and alternate sites are both situated along the west property boundary near I-84 on a 22.5-acre parcel located at 1119 Summit Road. Access to either site would be over the lessorís 1,000-foot driveway then over a newly constructed 200-foot access drive. The prime site is within a wooded area not far from the Fairview Drive neighborhood.  The alternate site is located behind a greenhouse and further away from residential development.  The nearest home belongs to the lessor approximately 400 feet east of the alternate site.  Only one other home is within 1,000 feet of the alternate tower, compared to nine homes including the lessorís within 1,000 feet of the prime site. Although the fall zone of the prime tower could remain on the lessorís property; the fall zone of the alternate tower would cross onto adjacent properties.  While we are concerned with fall zones and the potential impact to abutting property owners there are no homes within 400 feet of the alternate tower and there are engineering standards that regulate the construction of towers to prevent failure.  Although this tower cannot be relocated to maintain the entire fall zone on the property of the tower site, the tower could be relocated to some degree within the leased area to minimize impact to adjacent properties.

Of the two proposed sites, the alternate site would be developed on a previously disturbed, relatively level area adjacent to an existing greenhouse, fewer trees would need to be removed, and minimal grading would be necessary compared to the prime site that would require construction of a new access drive up a slope and removal of trees up to 26 inches in diameter and 70 in feet in height.

While the proposed alternate tower is taller that the proposed prime tower, the elevation above mean sea level is the same for the top of either tower.  We believe that development of the proposed alternate tower adjacent to the existing greenhouse and I-84 would be consistent with present land uses. Further, we do not believe that the alternate tower would cause a significant visual impact due to the presence of existing vegetation and topography.

There are no known existing populations of federally recognized endangered or threatened species nor Connecticut species of special concern occurring at the proposed prime or alternate site.  Also, the development of this facility would have no effect on the Stateís scenic, recreational, and historic values.

Electromagnetic radio frequency power density levels are a concern of the Council.  However, the radio frequency power densities at the base of the proposed prime or alternate site tower 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 the tower be brought into compliance with such standards.  Furthermore, because Crown has commitments for co-location by AT&T, Sprint, and Voicestream, we shall order that the applicant remodel worst-case radio frequency power density levels after all carriers have confirmed antenna locations, antenna type and gain, transmitter power, and channels to be operated.

To accommodate tower sharing, Crown proposed a prime or alternate site that would consist of a 55-foot by 60-foot fenced compound, four individual equipment buildings, underground utilities, and a 150-foot monopole at the prime site and a 170-foot monopole at the alternate site. However, the Town of Cheshire has suggested that a single equipment building be constructed capable of housing all proposed carriers with room for future use, including use by the Town. While development of a single structure was not proposed, a design plan for this structure could be provided within a Development and Management Plan.

Based on the record in this proceeding, we find that the effects associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the telecommunications facility at the proposed alternate site, 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 this application.  Therefore, we will issue a Certificate for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a telecommunications facility at the proposed alternate site at 1119 Summit Road, Cheshire, and deny certification of the prime site.

Our decision will be conditioned upon the Certificate Holder developing a single structure capable of housing proposed and future telecommunications carriers including space for the Town of Cheshire, relocating the tower within the leased parcel to lessen the fall zone onto adjacent properties, and remodeling worst-case radio frequency power density levels.  The Certificate Holder is required to submit a Development and Management Plan for approval by the Council prior to commencement of any construction at the facility site. 

Content Last Modified on 10/9/2002 11:54:03 AM