CSC: DO 206 Opinion

DOCKET NO. 206 - 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 at 191 Middle Haddam Road, Portland, Connecticut.















July 11, 2002




On June 8, 2001, Crown Atlantic Company LLC (Crown) and Cellco Partnership (Cellco) d/b/a Verizon Wireless 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 191 Middle Haddam Road, Portland, Connecticut.


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 Routes 66 and 151, and local roads in the east Portland area.


The Council only approves the construction of a new tower if: no other alternative to share an existing tower or structure exists; the Council finds a technical need for a new tower at a particular site based on a detailed analysis of propagation, capacity, signal strength, and facility sharing; and the need for the facility outweighs the environmental effects of the facility after a detailed analysis of the effects on scenic resources, land use, ecological resources, and human health determined through worst-case modeling of radio frequency power density consistent with federal guidelines.  Our intent is to balance the development of high quality wireless telecommunications infrastructure on a regional basis with provisions to protect the community and environment from the development of unnecessary or inadequate facilities.  Federal law and State law and policy support this practice.


The Council has carefully analyzed and considered propagation coverage for Cellco, environmental effects, use of existing structures, and tower sharing to identify sites that would provide the best coverage with the least effects on the public. Although existing structures include the 500-foot emission stack at the NRG electric generating facility in Middletown, a Pratt and Whitney Company tower on Airport Road in Middletown, Connecticut Light and Power Company (CL&P) high voltage transmission line support structures adjacent to the proposed Portland site, and a proposed Sprint tower located 1.5 miles east of the proposed Portland tower in East Hampton, these structures could not provide complete coverage compared to the proposed Portland tower.  However, a combination of any two of these structures could provide the needed coverage to the east Portland area for Cellco.  Use of the emission stack in a location with three other active emission stacks could cause corrosion to antennas and brackets, concern for exposure to workers, long runs of transmission cable that result in loss of power, limited access, and scheduling conflicts to work on the stack while any one of the other stacks are operating.  Furthermore, use of existing CL&P high voltage transmission structures in conjunction with a Pratt and Whitney tower or a proposed Sprint tower would require two sets of radio equipment, scheduling and security clearances for construction and maintenance and possible construction in inland wetlands.  The Council finds these issues could be negotiated; however, the timing and costs associated with deploying two sites in the Portland area is not reasonable at this time and we have determined that a new tower is justified.  The proposed prime or alternate tower in Portland would be part of an integrated cellular system and would alleviate a gap in coverage along Routes 66 and 151 and also would hand-off traffic with adjacent cell sites.


The proposed prime and alternate sites are located on a 15-acre parcel along the south and southeast property boundaries, respectively, at 191 Middle Haddam Road, Portland. Access to either site would be through an existing cleared area, 700 feet to the proposed alternate site and 1,000 feet to the proposed prime site. The prime site is on the edge of a wooded area adjacent to an undeveloped lot.  The alternate site is located in an open meadow. The nearest home belongs to the lessor over 400 feet away from either site and only two other homes are within 1,000 feet of either site. The fall radius of the prime tower crosses 130 feet east into an adjacent property and the fall radius of the alternate tower would cross 70 feet west onto another property.


Construction of the two proposed sites would be similar requiring minor tree clearing and grading, but the access road would be 300 feet longer to the proposed prime site than to the alternate site. The location of a tower on a 15-acre parcel formerly used for farming, adjacent to a substation and abandoned rail road right-of-way would not be inconsistent with current land uses.


While Crown proposes a 180-foot tower on either site, Cellco would locate its antennas at the 130-foot level of the proposed prime site and 160-foot level of the proposed alternate site that compensates a change in elevation. Since Cellco is the only user to date on the proposed tower, and either tower site is equally alike the Council will approve the proposed prime site but at a tower height of 130 feet.  If 180 feet is needed to support other wireless telecommunications carriers in the future the Council could review a 50-foot extension through a petition for a declaratory ruling. Also, we order that the proposed prime site tower be located 180 feet from the east and south property boundaries to maintain a 180-foot tower radius within the lessor’s property.  Further, we do not believe that the prime tower would cause a significant visual impact due to the presence of existing vegetation and topography. 


To accommodate tower sharing, Crown proposed a prime or alternate site that would consist of a 56-foot by 64-foot fenced compound, three additional equipment building foundations, a 12-foot by 30-foot equipment building for Cellco, and underground utilities. Because the Town of Portland is consulting on developing and connecting the abandoned railroad right-of-way to an existing State designated greenway known as the “Airline Trail” in East Hampton, the Council will require the Certificate holder to architecturally treat the buildings and/or fence around the compound consistent with the rural residential area.



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 archeological, scenic, recreational, and historic values.


Electromagnetic radio frequency power density levels are a concern of the Council.  However, the radio frequency power densities at the base of the proposed prime or alternate site tower would be below federal and State standards for the frequencies used by the wireless companies.  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 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 prime site at 191 Middle Haddam Road, Portland, and deny certification of the alternate site.


Our decision will be conditioned upon the Certificate Holder developing an architecturally treated equipment building and/or fence, and relocating the tower to maintain the fall radius on the lessor’s property.  The Certificate Holder is required to submit a Development and Management Plan for approval by the Council prior to commencement of construction at the facility site.

Content Last Modified on 12/18/2003 3:48:01 PM