CSC: DO 254 Opinion Durham

DOCKET NO. 254 - 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 wireless telecommunications facility at 134R Creamery Road, Durham, Connecticut.















December 9, 2003




On April 22, 2003, Sprint Spectrum L.P. (Sprint) applied to the Connecticut Siting Council (Council) for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (Certificate) to construct, operate and maintain a wireless telecommunication facility at 134R Creamery Road, Durham, Connecticut.  The primary purpose of the proposed facility is to provide wireless service to existing gaps in Sprintís coverage of Route 17 and 77 in the Durham area.


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 proposed tower site is located on a 67-acre wooded parcel of land in the southern portion of Durham between Routes 17 and 77.  The proposed tower would be approximately 908 feet from the nearest residence, located to the northeast along Creamery Road.  No wetlands are found on the lease or easement areas of this site.  The nearest wetland is on an adjacent property, approximately 350 feet from the proposed tower compound.


Sprint has proposed a 130 foot stealth tower in the form of a pine tree for this site.  Access to the tower compound would be from Creamery Road along an existing driveway for approximately 950 feet, and then proceed through fields and wooded areas for approximately another 930 feet.  Utilities would be brought into the proposed site underground.  No blasting is expected to be needed to construct the site.


There are no known existing populations of state endangered, threatened, or species of special concern at the proposed site.  A professional reconnaissance survey was conducted on the proposed site, and no significant archaeological resources were discovered in the survey.  The proposed facility would have no affect on historic, architectural or archaeological resources listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.


Due to topography and surrounding vegetation, the tower, as proposed, is not expected to be visible from Creamery Road.  The tower would be most significantly visible to roads and residences east of Route 77 at a distance of 2500 to 3000 feet from the Crooked Hill area, which would have an unobstructed view of the tower.  This viewshed also contains the existing Totoket Mountain tower, nearly two miles south of the proposed Sprint site.  The proposed tower would also be visible from approximately 0.6 miles of Route 77 and a portion of Route 17 at a distance of approximately 1.5 miles.  Sprint has proposed this tower as a 130-foot stealth pine tree and visual simulations were based on this design; however such a height and tree species would be out of proportion to other trees in the area.  In this proceeding, and in the concurrent proceeding (Docket 237) of Tower Ventures at the Raccoon Club in Durham, the Council explored the use of various combinations of existing and proposed towers at various heights.  However, none of these combinations offered a real solution in terms of both optimum road coverage and reduced visibility.  Although not a perfect solution, the proposed Creamery Road tower does offer the best coverage to both Routes 17 and 77 for Sprint due to its location approximately midway between these two coverage objectives.  However, the Council has not been persuaded that a 130 foot pine tree is required at this site; both coverage maps and road coverage tables indicate little difference between 130 foot and 100 foot towers at this site, especially for the primary Sprint coverage objectives of Route 17 and 77, with coverage differences of only .07 and .02 miles respectively.  As to the type of tower, it appears that a pine tree would create a larger profile on the horizon as seen from a distance.  Evidence in the record indicates that this tower would be more visible at a distance than from closer vantage points, and therefore the Council will order that a flush-mounted tower be built at the proposed site.  If the tower at 100 feet is not sufficient to provide the coverage needs of Sprint or other carriers, the applicant may petition the Council for an extension of this tower after it has been built and tested for coverage at 100 feet.


The radio frequency power density levels at the base of the proposed tower would be well below federal and state standards.  If federal or state standards change, the Council will require that the facility be brought into compliance with such standards.  The Council will require that the power densities be remodeled in the event other carriers locate at this facility.


Based on the record in this proceeding, we find that the effects associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of a 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 100-foot flush mounted tower design at the proposed site.

Content Last Modified on 12/22/2003 7:39:48 AM