CSC: DO 237 Opinion Durham Raccoon Club

DOCKET NO. 237 - Tower Ventures II, LLC application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance and operation of a wireless telecommunications facility on one of two sites at 853R New Haven Road, Durham, Connecticut.















December 9, 2003




Tower Ventures II, LLC, applied to the Connecticut Siting Council (Council) on December 9, 2002, for the construction, operation and maintenance of a proposed telecommunications tower in Durham, Connecticut.  The proposed tower, at one of two proposed sites, would provide wireless telecommunications service to existing coverage gaps along Route 17 in Durham.  The Council and its staff held a hearing on this docket in Durham on February 20, 2003.  On the same day, Council and staff conducted a field review of the proposed sites, which are on property owned by the New Haven Raccoon Club.  Council members observed balloons flown at the proposed and alternate sites from the property of the Raccoon Club, as well as their visibility from nearby roads.


At a meeting held on August 26, 2003, the Council voted to reopen this docket for the limited purpose of considering a third proposed alternate site, A-3, approximately 300 feet north of site A-2, as well as the visibility of towers A-1 and A-2. Each of the towers would be flush-mounted towers. On October 30, 2003, the Council revisited the Raccoon Club site and viewed balloons representing the A-1, A-2, and A-3 towers from views on the property and from viewpoints along roads within nearby residential areas.


The public need for wireless 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 wireless 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 Raccoon Club, 72 wooded acres, is itself largely undeveloped and few homes are near the proposed sites themselves; three are within 1000 feet of the A-1  site and none within 1000 feet of the A-2 and A-3 sites. However, all three sites are on the higher elevations of the Raccoon Club property. The same elevations which provide prospective towers with better coverage to cell phone users render them more visible to residents of the area. 


The proposed sites contain no state endangered, or threatened species or species of special concern.  No wetlands are on sites A-1 or A-2, but the A-3 site’s proposed access road route would cross an intermittent stream.  No prehistoric artifacts were recovered during a Phase I Archaeological survey of the sites.


Each of the three proposed towers would be useful in narrowing an existing gap along Route 17 of approximately three miles.  However, a gap of approximately one mile along Route 17 would remain for AT&T even with the installation of a tower at the Raccoon Club site and the inclusion of antennas on a tower on Blue Hill Road.  AT&T is not currently proposing a site to fill that remaining gap.


The competing factors of visibility and coverage limit the value of the Raccoon Club site.  The proposed A-1 and A-2 towers would be highly visible to  homes on Erika Court. The relocated A-3 site represented a significant reduction in visibility from the A-1 and A-2 sites, and the applicant is to be commended in this regard.  The Council finds proposed sites A-1 and A-2 are not viable.  For proposed Site A-3, or for another prospective site in the vicinity, the Council needs additional information, including site details, wetlands determination, and complete review with the Town of Durham.


  The Council believes further efforts at site relocation and tower height reduction are warranted on the part of Tower Ventures.  For this reason the Council will deny without prejudice the present proposed   sites offered by Tower Ventures in the hopes that further exploration and creativity may produce a site or sites whose visual effects are as acceptable as its coverage effects.


Content Last Modified on 12/22/2003 7:34:06 AM