CSC: Simsbury Docket No. 200 Opinion

DOCKET NO. 200 - 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 121 West Street or 123 West Street, Simsbury, Connecticut. }

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Connecticut
Siting
Council

November 7, 2001

Opinion

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 121 West Street or 123 West Street, Simsbury, Connecticut.  Springwich Cellular Limited Partnership (SCLP), Nextel Communications (Nextel), and 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. In addition, the Town of Simsbury was a Party to the proceeding.  The purpose of the proposed facility is to expand and improve existing cellular and wireless telecommunications services in the Simsbury area, particularly along portions of Route 10/202, Route 309, and Route 167.

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 proposed prime site would include a 160-foot monopole within a 10-acre property that is used as a landscaping business and is surrounded by undeveloped industrial land and residential properties within a Restricted Industrial zone.  Three trees that are 6-inches or greater in diameter at breast height would have to be removed for the construction of the proposed site and access road.  There are 33 homes within a 1000-foot radius of the proposed tower, the nearest of which is approximately 400 feet to the west.

The proposed alternate site, located about 200 feet northeast of the prime site, would include a 160-foot monopole within a 3-acre property that is used for school bus storage and is surrounded by the landscaping business at the prime site, a gas station, and residential uses.  Four trees 6-inches or greater in diameter at breast height would have to be removed for the construction of the proposed site and access road.  There are 43 homes within a 1000-foot radius of the proposed alternate site, the nearest of which is 350 feet to the north.

On December 20, 1999, the Town of Simsbury Zoning Commission denied an application for the construction of a tower at the prime site stating that the applicant failed to demonstrate the need for a multi-carrier tower at this location, the tower is inconsistent with the character of the area, there was inadequate visual mitigation provided, and no consideration was given to alternative sites.  The Town acknowledged the need for a telecommunications tower in the center of Simsbury and began working with Ensign-Bickford Realty Corporation (EBRC), the owners of the Powder Forest Industrial Park (Powder Forest), to select a site within the Powder Forest for a tower.  EBRC issued a request for proposals (RFP) in March of 2000; Crown responded to that RFP, but was not a successful bidder for the site.  Crown met with the owners of New England Site Management, the company that won the RFP for the Powder Forest site on February 5, 2001.  Crown was interested in including the site as an alternative in this application, however they could not reach an agreement with New England Site Management.  New England Site Management has proposed construction of a 190-foot telecommunications tower within the Powder Forest 500 feet south of the prime site proposed in this application.  This application in the Powder Forest is currently before the Council in Docket 203.

The Council reopened this docket for the limited purpose to assess visibility from the proposed sites, and the Powder Forest site.  Balloons were flown to 160-feet above ground level (AGL) from the proposed prime and alternate sites, which have an elevation of 210-feet above mean sea level (AMSL).  In addition, a balloon was flown at 190-feet AGL from a site proposed at the Powder Forest.  The 160-foot monopole would be visible from portions of West Street (Route 309) and Firetown Road; however, deciduous vegetation would block the view of the tower from the Simsbury High School.  The 190-foot tower proposed for the Powder Forest, at a base elevation of 278 feet AMSL, would be visible from portions of West Street (Route 309), and Firetown Road; and would be visible from the grounds of the Simsbury High School.  Based on the balloon flights at the proposed sites, all towers would be visible from the Hop Meadow Country Club, however the 190-foot tower proposed at the Powder Forest would be taller and therefore more visible than the towers proposed on West Street.

Although the proposed sites are within a Restricted Industrial zone, they would be in close proximity to a number of residential properties and therefore would visually impact residents.  In addition, the Town of Simsbury does not favor these sites because of visibility, impact to residential homes, and because a viable alternative exists approximately 500 feet to the south in the Powder Forest Industrial Park.

While we do not believe these proposed facilities would produce excessive impact to the community, their development would be more significant than the alternative favored by the Town of Simsbury.  We are in agreement with the Town of Simsbury and the carriers that this area clearly requires the development of a facility to fill coverage gaps.  However, only one facility is needed and such final location should be selected based on objectives to provide high quality telecommunications service with minimal impact to the environment, and if possible, consistent with the preferences of the Town.  While the proposed Powder Forest site is only 500 feet south of the proposed prime site, it is 68 feet higher in elevation and located on a more prominent ridge to provide superior coverage when compared to the prime or alternate site proposed in this application.

Furthermore, the Powder Forest site is screened with a dense forest, and future industrial park development would not be inconsistent with the development of a tower.  Based on the record in this proceeding, consistent with our responsibilities as required by statute and regulations to consider environmental effects, effects on residential development, municipal regulations, tower sharing and the need to reduce proliferation of unnecessary towers, and to consider alternatives that would lessen the impact of such facilities on the public, we find that the effects associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the telecommunications facility at the proposed prime and alternate sites, 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 disproportionate either alone or cumulatively with other effects when compared to need, are in conflict with policies of the State concerning such effects, and are sufficient reason to deny this application.  Therefore, we will not issue a Certificate for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a telecommunications facility at the proposed prime site at 123 West Street, Simsbury, or alternate site at 121 West Street, Simsbury.



Content Last Modified on 10/9/2002 11:54:35 AM