CSC: Simsbury Docket No. 203 Opinion

DOCKET NO. 203 - New England Site Management application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance, and operation of a cellular telecommunications facility located on Grist Mill Road, known as the Powder Forest, Simsbury, Connecticut. }

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Connecticut Siting Council November 7, 2001

Opinion

On April 20, 2001, New England Site Management (NESM) 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 on Grist Mill Road, on a parcel known as the Powder Forest Business Park, Simsbury, Connecticut.  The property owner is Ensign-Bickford Realty Corporation (EBRC). Cingular Wireless (Cingular), Nextel Communications (Nextel), AT&T Wireless Services, Inc. (AT&T), and the Town of Simsbury intervened in the proceeding and expressed a willingness to share the proposed telecommunications facility.  In addition, Crown Atlantic Company intervened in this 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 site would include a 190-foot monopole within the 472-acre property, which is to be developed as an industrial park.  Approximately 62 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 four homes within a 1000-foot radius of the proposed site, the nearest of which is approximately 600 feet to the west.

On December 20, 1999, the Town of Simsbury Zoning Commission denied an application for the construction of a tower at 125 West Street located approximately 500-feet north of the proposed site in the Powder Forest Industrial Park (the prime site in Docket 200), stating that the applicant failed to demonstrate the need for a multi-carrier tower at this location, the tower would be 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 EBRC to select a site within the Powder Forest Business Park for a tower.  The Town of Simsbury Zoning endorsed this facility as consistent with the needs and goals of the community.

The Council reopened this docket for the limited purpose to assess visibility from the proposed site, and alternate sites.  A balloon was flown at 190-feet above ground level (AGL) from a site proposed at the Powder Forest Industrial Park (which has an elevation of 278-feet above mean sea level).  In addition, balloons were flown to 160-feet AGL at two sites located about 500 feet and about 700 feet north of the proposed prime (123 West Street) and alternate (121 West Street) respectively, which are the sites being proposed by Crown Atlantic Company LLC and Cellco Partnership (Docket 200).  The 160-foot monopoles, with a base elevation of 210 feet above mean sea level (AMSL) at the West Street sites, would be visible from along portions of West Street (Route 309) and Firetown Road, but deciduous vegetation would block the view of the tower from the Simsbury High School.  The 190-foot tower proposed for Powder Forest Industrial Park 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 flight at the proposed sites, both towers would be visible from the Hop Meadow Country Club however, the tower proposed at Powder Forest would be taller and therefore more visible than those proposed on West Street.

Although the Powder Forest tower might be more visible from certain locations, it would be at the site location preferred by the Town of Simsbury after considerable investigation to develop a facility consistent with the needs and goals of the community.  Visibility is substantially increased due to the 68-foot difference in elevation between this site and those of Docket 200, and because of the 30-foot taller tower proposed.  However, the 92-foot height of the Powder Forest tower would be at 370 feet AMSL, approximately the same elevation as antennas at the top of the 160-foot tower proposed at the prime site in the Docket 200 application.  Consequently, coverage from lower portions of this tower would be similar to the coverage from the top of the Docket 200 tower.  Coverage from the Powder Forest tower could therefore promote additional tower sharing by multiple carriers, and from a lower height tower that would mitigate visual effects.  A 130-foot tower would provide coverage at locations from the 90-foot level to the top of the tower for as many as six providers, including the town at the top of the tower.  The foundation and tower structure could also be designed and constructed for an additional extension to 150 feet to accommodate additional carriers, if and when it is needed.  This option allows selection of the municipally preferred site in an industrial area buffered by mature trees, with a lower height tower that would reduce the visual impact of the tower and still provide high quality coverage for multiple carriers and the Town.

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 State’s scenic, recreational, and historic values.

Electromagnetic radio frequency power density levels are a concern of the Council.  The proposed tower currently does not have commitments from any carriers to place antennas and associated equipment at the site.  Consequently, we shall order that the applicant model worst-case radio frequency power density levels once commitments have been made and all carriers have confirmed antenna locations.  If Federal or State standards change, we will require that the tower be brought into compliance with such standards.

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 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 site on Grist Mill Road, in the Powder Forest Industrial Park, Simsbury.



Content Last Modified on 10/9/2002 11:56:01 AM