CSC: Docket No. 204 Opinion

DOCKET NO. 204 - 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 located at 650 Albany Turnpike (Route 44), Canton; or at 21 Indian Hill Road, Canton, Connecticut.  }

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Connecticut

Siting

Council

February 14, 2002

Opinion

On May 18, 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, maintenance, and operation of a cellular telecommunications facility located at 650 Albany Turnpike (Route 44), or at 21 Indian Hill Road, Canton, Connecticut.  Parties and intervenors in this proceeding include the applicant, Heather and Miles Lowes, Nancy R. Johnson, the Connecticut Sand and Stone Corporation (CSSC), and the Town of Canton.

The primary purpose of the proposed facility is to provide additional traffic handling capacity and cellular coverage to an existing coverage gap along Route 44 and local roads in the Canton area, and to provide future Personal Communication Services (PCS) coverage in Litchfield County.  The proposed facilities would interact with existing cellular coverage provided by facilities at the Canton Volunteer Fire Department located at 14 Canton Springs Road, and two SBA Inc. towers located at 540 Cherry Brook Road and 96 Powder Mill Road in Canton.  The proposed facilities would also interact with an existing Sprint tower located at 115 Industrial Park Road, in New Hartford, to provide Cellco's future PCS service in the New Hartford area.

The applicant provided coverage plots depicting existing coverage from facilities in the Town of Canton, even though Cellco had not placed their antennas on two of these existing towers.  The Council had concerns that the actual coverage from these facilities could differ from the coverage prediction plots.  Consequently, the applicant provided drive test data from these facilities which confirmed Cellco's coverage prediction plots that depicted an approximately four-tenths of a mile gap in cellular coverage along Route 44 in Canton.  A coverage gap approximately four-tenths of a mile in length along Route 44 is significant, given that Route 44 is a heavily traveled highway in the Towns of New Hartford and Canton, through to northwest Connecticut.

The proposed prime site would be located near the northeast corner of an approximately eleven-acre parcel owned by Edward Lally, Jr.  The proposed prime site parcel is bounded by low-density residential development to the south, southwest, and east, and vacant land owned by CSSC to the north and west.  The topography of the proposed lease area is level; minimal clearing and limited grading would be required for its development of the proposed facility; and vehicular access to the proposed prime site would extend northerly from Albany Turnpike along an existing driveway.  The lessor's residence, the closest residence to the proposed prime site tower, would be located approximately 150-feet south of the proposed tower.

The proposed alternate site would be located in the northern portion of the approximately three-acre undeveloped parcel owned by Aniela M. Pawl.  The alternate site parcel is bounded by residential development.  The topography of the proposed alternate site slopes steeply up from Indian Hill Road to the south; it is vacant and heavily wooded.  Development of the proposed alternate site would require considerably more clearing and grading than development of the proposed prime site.  The residence at 15 Indian Hill Road, the closest neighbor to the proposed alternate site, would be located approximately 155-feet west of the proposed alternate site tower.  The proposed tower at the alternate site would be highly visible from the residence at 15 Indian Hill Road.

The Council also considered, in a limited manner, a site located near the northwest corner of an approximately 59-acre parcel owned by the CSSC, located north of the proposed prime site, south and east of the Farmington River, and west of Route 44 in New Hartford.  The Council believes that the site on the CSSC property is not preferable to the proposed prime site because it is located in Litchfield County, which is not within Cellco's licensed cellular service area, and the development of a telecommunications facility would result in greater environmental impacts and would be more visible from the Farmington River.

Neither the proposed prime or alternate 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 site have an effect on historic, architectural, or archaeological resources listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The applicant seeks to develop a 150-foot tower on either the proposed prime or alternate site.  The purpose of the proposed 150-foot tower would be to accommodate Cellco and at least three additional wireless telecommunications providers.  The Council has carefully analyzed the record in this proceeding and finds a technical need for a new tower based on a detailed analysis of propagation and signal strength.  We believe that Cellco's coverage objectives in the Town of Canton could be achieved by placing their antennas at a height of 110 feet above ground level (AGL).  Furthermore, no other telecommunications providers have demonstrated a need for co-locating on the proposed facilities at a higher height.  Therefore, the Council will require that the tower be built no taller than necessary to provide acceptable cellular coverage in the area.

We believe that the proposed prime site would be preferable to the proposed alternate site because the proposed telecommunications facility at the proposed prime site would be less visible, would have less of an impact on homes in the immediate vicinity, and would have the least environmental effect, given the nature of the development of the property.  Therefore, we will direct the applicant to construct a tower at the proposed prime site no taller than 110 feet in height, designed with a capacity for extension up to 150 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 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.

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 prime 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 prime site located at 650 Albany Turnpike, Canton, Connecticut.  The Council will deny certification of the proposed alternate 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 11:56:30 AM