CSC: Old Lyme Docket No. 202 Opinion

DOCKET NO. 202 - Crown Atlantic Company LLC and Cellco Partnership d/b/a Cellco Wireless application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance, and operation of a cellular telecommunications facility off of Buttonball Road, located approximately 1,000 feet south of the intersection of Buttonball Road and the Amtrak railroad right-of-way, Old Lyme; or at 125 Mile Creek Road, Old Lyme, Connecticut. }

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Connecticut

Siting

Council

September 12, 2001

Opinion

On April 13, 2001, Crown Atlantic Company LLC (Crown) and Cellco Partnership (Cellco) d/b/a Verizon Wireless in accordance with provisions of Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) 16-50g through 16-50aa applied to the Connecticut Siting Council (Council) for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a cellular telecommunications facility in Old Lyme, Connecticut, to provide cellular coverage within the Town of Old Lyme and New London County.  The Town of Old Lyme Zoning Commission, John P. and Judith A. McCarthy, and James B. Blair are parties and intervenors in this proceeding.

The primary purpose of the proposed facility is to provide cellular coverage to existing gaps along Interstate 95 (I-95), Route 156, the Amtrak railroad right-of-way (ROW), and local roads in the Old Lyme area; and to provide additional traffic handling capacity in the Old Lyme area.  The proposed facilities would interact with existing cellular coverage provided by facilities at 38 Hatchetts Hill Road in Old Lyme, and 2 Ferry Place in Old Saybrook; however, coverage gaps located along I-95, northwest and southeast of the proposed sites, would remain.  Consequently, additional towers may be required northwest and southeast of the proposed sites to provide service to the coverage gaps along I-95, and to the southeast.

The proposed prime site would be located on an approximately 32-acre parcel, owned by the Black Hall Club, Inc., off of Buttonball Road.  The parcel is located north of a former quarry operation, west of the Black Hall Golf Club, and north and east of low density residential development.  The fall zone of the proposed 190-foot tall tower would encroach upon two properties located approximately 90 feet north of the proposed prime site lease area boundary.  Furthermore, the proposed prime site is located adjacent to an area that has been designated by the Town of Old Lyme as an area of conservation interest.

The proposed alternate #1 site would be located on an approximately 62-acre parcel located at 125 Mile Creek Road in Old Lyme, owned by Leon Machnik, Todd J. and Rebecca L. Machnik.  The 62-acre parcel is used as the base of operations for the Machnik Construction Company.  Although, low density residential development is located to the east, west, and north of the proposed alternative #1 site, the proposed facility is well buffered given its location on this large property.  The fall zone of the proposed 190-foot tower would not extend beyond the property boundaries at the alternate #1 site.  Additionally, minimal clearing and grading would be required for the use of the proposed alternate access road and site compound.

Neither the proposed prime or alternate #1 site contain known extant populations of Federal or State Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern Species; no wetlands or watercourses exist within the proposed compound or proposed access road at the proposed sites; nor would the proposed construction of the proposed prime or alternate #1 site have an effect on historic, architectural, or archaeological resources listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.  However, the proposed prime site lease area and access road are located within close proximity to a large pond, and the Black Hall River.  Visibility of the proposed prime site tower is greater than that of the proposed alternate site tower due to the lack of tall trees, and the topography resulting from the former quarry operations and the Black Hall River estuary.

The applicant seeks to develop a 190-foot tower on either the proposed prime or alternate #1 site.  The purpose of the proposed 190-foot tower would be to accommodate Cellco and at least three additional wireless telecommunications providers.  Cellco seeks to place their antennas no higher than 160 feet above ground level (AGL), and no other telecommunications providers have demonstrated a need for co-locating on the proposed facilities at a higher height.  Additionally, the proposed towers could accommodate antennas below Cellco's proposed antennas.

The record in this case supports the need for a new facility; however, we have concern that additional unknown facilities to the northwest and southeast of the sites in this application will require development and integration into the telecommunications carriers networks.  While we have some regrets that all these facilities can not be considered together for the optimum balancing of facility location and tower heights, we are confident that a facility at either the proposed prime or alternate #1 site at a height of 160 AGL will be consistent with future development plans.

We believe that the proposed alternate #1 site would be preferable to the proposed prime site because the proposed telecommunications facility at the proposed alternate #1 site would be less visible, would impact fewer homes in the immediate vicinity, and would have the least environmental effect, given the nature of the development and current uses of the property.  Therefore, we will direct the applicant to construct a tower at the proposed alternate #1 site no taller than 160 feet in height, designed to be extended up to 190 feet AGL for additional sharing of this tower, if subsequently approved by the Council.

Electromagnetic radio frequency power density levels are a concern of the Council.  However, the radio frequency power densities at the base of the proposed s towers would be well 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.

The Town of Old Lyme Zoning Commission requests that the Council consider requiring the applicant to remove the proposed tower if it becomes obsolete or unused, and that a single equipment building with suitable architectural treatment and landscaping be constructed at either proposed site to accommodate the telecommunications equipment for at least three other telecommunications providers.  These are reasonable requests that the Council will order.

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 #1 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 #1 site located at 125 Mile Creek Road, Old Lyme, Connecticut.  The Council will deny certification of the proposed prime site.

Our decision will be conditioned upon the Certificate Holder submitting 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 11:55:28 AM