CSC: Docket No. 212 Opinion

DOCKET NO. 212 - Sprint Spectrum, L.P. d/b/a Sprint PCS application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance, and operation of a cellular telecommunications facility adjacent to 156 Stafford Street or 159 Stafford Street, Stafford, Connecticut. }

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Connecticut
Siting
Council
June 3, 2002

 
Opinion

On September 28, 2001, Sprint Spectrum L.P., d/b/a Sprint PCS (Sprint) applied to the Connecticut Siting Council (Council) for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (Certificate) for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a wireless telecommunications facility off Stafford Street in Stafford, Connecticut.  The applicant, Citizens for Neighborhood Preservation, and Town of Stafford are parties and intervenors in this proceeding.

The primary purpose of the proposed facility is to provide wireless telecommunications coverage to existing gaps in the area, and additional call handling capacity along Route 19 and local roads in the northeast Stafford area.

The Council has carefully analyzed the record in this proceeding including a proposed site located off Stony Lane in the Town of Stafford (Council Docket No. 213) and a future site to be developed in South Wales, Massachusetts located less than four miles north of the proposed Stafford Road site.  While the Stony Lane or South Wales, Massachusetts sites would not provide coverage to Route 19 in the north Stafford area they will provide call handoff capability with the proposed Stafford Road site. Therefore, the proposed Stafford Road facility would be an integral component of Sprintís network to provide seamless wireless coverage to those portions of Route 19 that would not otherwise be served by existing and proposed facilities in the area.  Consequently, based on a detailed analysis of propagation, capacity, signal strength, and no existing structures the Council finds a technical need for a new tower. Because the proposed alternate tower base elevation is about 60 feet higher than the proposed prime site tower base elevation the Council has explored the opportunity to lower the height of the proposed alternate tower; however given the significant tree cover in the area wireless coverage would be diminished at a lower height.

The applicant seeks to develop a 150-foot tower on either the proposed prime or alternate sites.  The purpose of a 150-foot tower would be to accommodate Sprint, two future carriers and public safety entities. The Town of Stafford Fire Department expressed an interest to share the proposed facility. Furthermore, the tower radius for both sites would remain on the lessorís property, and neither site would require air navigation lighting or marking.

The proposed sites are on separate properties bisected by Stafford Street and are approximately 1,800 feet apart.  The proposed prime site is located on a 10 acre parcel, is over three hundred feet west of Stafford Street, and proximate to the lessorís house and an adjacent neighborís home. The proposed alternate site is located on a 31 acre parcel which the Council investigated four sites located between 900 feet and 1,500 east of Stafford Street and vary in distance to adjacent neighbors on Fox Run Drive.  Alternate sites B and C would be near the lessorís south property boundary and would be as close as three hundred feet to homes on Fox Run Drive.  The alternate A site, and the alternate D (deer stand) site located 500 feet north of the proposed alternate A site would be further from homes on Fox Run Drive. Both the proposed prime and alternate sites are in a wooded residential area. Based on location, the alternate D (deer stand) site is more remote and distant to adjacent residential land uses.

Sprint proposed access roads along existing woods roads, which minimizes tree clearing and grading. Development of the proposed prime site would require clearing of approximately 17 to 40 trees with diameters of 6-inches or greater at breast height for construction of the access road and site compound. At the proposed prime site the existing woods road was on the lessorís south property boundary adjacent to a neighbor.  During the proceeding another access road was proposed north of the lessorís driveway and away from the neighbor.  This access road would approach the proposed prime site from Stafford Street a distance of 440 feet and would require 40 trees to be removed. Clearing of trees to construct the access road and site compound at the proposed alternate sites range from 31 to 45 trees with diameters of 6-inches or greater at breast height.  The proposed alternate access road would also be from Stafford Street requiring clearing of up to 45 trees and grading of an existing woods road of up to 2,000 feet. Comparison of tree clearing and use of existing woods roads, development of the alternate D (deer stand) site would be further from inland wetlands and residences than the proposed prime site or alternate A, B or C sites.

Sprint proposes to construct an approximate 5,000 square foot facility compound to accommodate Sprint and two other carriers; however, since Sprint is the only carrier to use the tower, we believe that the compound could be reduced to minimize tree clearing. Electric and telephone utilities would be installed underground at the proposed prime site and overhead at the proposed alternate site. The Town recommends that the utilities be installed underground.

The access road to the alternate sites would cross two intermittent watercourses and would be proximate to four inland wetlands.  Two of these inland wetlands are east of the alternate A and alternate D (deer stand) sites and have been identified as vernal pool habitats.  While the access road comes as close as 10 feet to inland wetlands and the alternate A site lease area would be 55 feet from inland wetlands, the Council will order that Sprint maintain a 25 foot buffer to all inland wetlands and install erosion and sediment controls to protect these resources prior to construction consistent with the Connecticut Guidelines for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control, as amended, prior to construction.

The Council is concerned with the visibility of the tower and must balance the need for the tower and the environmental effects of the tower on its adjacent land uses.  In this case the proposed prime site is close to residents and would be more visible than the proposed alternate site and offers no substantial savings in tree clearing.  The alternate A site would be further removed from adjacent residences but not nearly so as the proposed alternate D (deer stand) site. Although the alternate D (deer stand) site has the highest elevation of the proposed sites and its visibility would be slightly greater, it would be reduced by distance. Moreover the alternate D (deer stand) site compound would be farther away from inland wetlands than the proposed alternate A site. Therefore, we will direct the applicant to construct a tower at the proposed alternate D (deer stand) site.

Neither the proposed prime or alternate sites contain known extant populations of Federal or State Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern Species; however a State species of special concern, the whip-poor-will, has been identified within 2,000 feet of the proposed prime and alternate sites.  To protect the foraging activities of this species, the Council will order the Certificate holder to not construct during the months of May, June and July. Furthermore, there are no sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places or any National Historic districts in the vicinity of the proposed prime or alternate site nor would the proposed construction of either site affect the stateís archaeological heritage.

Electromagnetic radio frequency power density levels are a concern of the Council.  However, the radio frequency power density at the base of the proposed tower would be well below federal and State standards for the frequency used by Sprint.  If new carriers are added or federal or state standards change, we will require that all carriers comply with such standards.

We appreciate the Town of Staffordís First Selectman, Mr. Gordon Frassinelli, Jr., Citizens for Neighborhood Preservation, the ownersí of the site parcels, and Sprint in working on a consensus for a site. In this case, the alternate A, B, and C sites were located along a property boundary and appeared to infringe on an adjacent neighborhood. Subsequent to the Councilís December 2001 hearing the parties and intervenors proposed the alternate D (deer stand) site.  Following a Council hearing in April 2002 and based on the agreement of the parties and intervenors in this proceeding the Council will approve the alternate site known as the alternate D (deer stand) site. The Council will approve the alternate D (deer stand) site, order that the utilities be installed underground, that no construction will take place during the months of May, June and July, maintain a 25-foot buffer to inland wetlands, and if the tower ceases to provide wireless services the applicant shall dismantle the tower and remove the associated equipment within sixty days or reapply for any continued or new use to the Council.

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 D (deer stand) site located at 159 Stafford Street, Connecticut. The Council will deny the proposed prime site and alternate sites A, B, and C.

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 1:01:41 PM