CSC: Docket No. 222 Opinion

DOCKET NO. 222 - Connecticut Agricultural Towers LLC application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance, and operation of a cellular telecommunications facility at 459 Burr Road, Southbury, Connecticut. }

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Connecticut

Siting

Council

May 21, 2002

Opinion

On December 12, 2001, James E. Dwyer Co., Inc. 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 one of two locations at 459 Burr Road in Southbury, Connecticut.  The applicant, and Michael Jeffers Ryer, James McQuillan, and Michael Schenk are parties in this proceeding.

The primary purpose of the proposed facility is to provide wireless telecommunications coverage to existing gaps in the northwest Oxford and southeast Southbury area including Route 487 (Kettletown Road) in Southbury.

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.

Both sites are located in the central, wooded portion of a 37.22-acre residential parcel, approximately 300 feet apart.  The tower radius of both sites would remain on the lessor’s property.  Electric and telephone utilities would be installed underground, and neither site would require air navigation lighting or marking.

The applicant seeks to develop a 150-foot tower on either the proposed prime or alternate site.  The applicant currently does not have commitments from any carriers to place antennas and associated equipment at the site.  The Town of Southbury expressed an interest to share the proposed facility.

The proposed prime site has an elevation of 759.71 feet above mean sea level (AMSL).  Approximately 31 trees that are 6-inches or greater in diameter at breast height would have to be removed for the construction of the proposed prime site compound and access road.  An existing dirt road would be improved for a length of 1,455 feet to provide access to the prime site.  There are four residences within a 1,000-foot radius of the site, the nearest of which is approximately 700 feet to the east.  The nearest property boundary is located approximately 330 feet east of the proposed prime compound site.

The proposed alternate site has an elevation of 737.86 feet AMSL.  Approximately 18 trees that are 6-inches or greater in diameter at breast height would have to be removed for the construction of the proposed alternate site compound.  An existing dirt road would be improved for a length of 1,320 feet to provide access to the alternate site.  There are four residences within a 1,000-foot radius of the alternate site, the nearest of which is approximately 600 feet to the east.  The nearest property boundary is located approximately 600 feet east of the proposed alternate compound site.

Although both sites would be visible from the same general locations, a greater buffer will exist at the prime site between the nearest adjacent residence and property boundary.  Therefore, we will direct the applicant to construct a tower at the proposed prime site.
Visibility of the proposed tower is of concern to the Council.  The tower will be visible from residential areas 0.8 miles east and 0.7-1.0 miles south-southwest, and from the observation tower located in Southford Falls State Park, 1.1 miles east.  The greatest visual impact will be from Burr Road, 0.3 miles south, and Rocky Mountain Road, 0.2 miles west.  An application to the Town of Southbury to declare Rocky Mountain Road a town scenic road was filed on January 28, 2002.  The Council, in its deliberations, considered the visual impact to Rocky Mountain Road as if it were a designated town scenic road.

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 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 by carriers to locate at specific tower locations.  If Federal or State standards change, we will require that the tower be brought into compliance with such standards.

The applicant submitted propagation coverage maps showing proposed coverage at 10-foot intervals between tower heights of 150 feet and 90 feet.  The plots do not appear to be significantly different from one another.  Existing coverage gaps along roads in the area including Route 487, Burr Road, Hulls Hill Road, Jacob Road, and Maple Tree Hill Road would be filled in or reduced significantly.

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 prime site and deny certification of the proposed alternate site.  Tower construction will be contingent upon James E. Dwyer, Co., Inc receiving an executed lease agreement with a telecommunications carrier who must submit a petition for a declaratory ruling that no Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need is required for the placement of equipment at the facility.  Upon receiving a favorable declaratory ruling from the Council, construction can commence.  Although the height of this tower will be determined by the carrier’s coverage needs presented in the petition, the tower shall not exceed a height of 150 feet above ground level.



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