CSC: DO 288 AT&T Bethel Opinion

DOCKET NO. 288 – AT&T Wireless PCS, LLC d/b/a AT&T Wireless and Valley Communications, Inc. application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance and operation of a wireless telecommunications facility at 38 Spring Hill Lane, Bethel, Connecticut.







August 12, 2004



On February 19, 2004, AT&T Wireless PCS, LLC d/b/a AT&T Wireless (AT&T Wireless) and Valley Communications, Inc. applied to the Connecticut Siting Council (Council) for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (Certificate) to construct, operate, and maintain a 148-foot wireless telecommunications facility at 38 Spring Hill Lane, Bethel, Connecticut. AT&T would perform all necessary site work and construct the facility. Valley Communications, Inc. would be the Certificate Holder. The purpose of the proposed facility is to provide wireless telecommunications service to Routes 58 and 302 and local roads in central Bethel. The facility would also support Town and private communication networks.

Sprint Spectrum L.P. d/b/a Sprint PCS (Sprint) and Omnipoint Facilities Network 2 LLC (T-Mobile) intervened in the proceeding and expressed a willingness to locate at the proposed telecommunications facility. Other intervenors in this proceeding were abutting property owners William Huertas, Jr., James C. Kelleher, and Steven Mitchell, State Representative Hank Bielawa, and First Selectman Alice M. Hutchinson.

Valley Communications Inc. maintains an existing 90-foot guyed lattice tower at 38 Spring Hill Lane, a 1.6-acre parcel on locally high ground in central Bethel. The tower currently supports various tower users including Nextel Communications Inc., Thomas Refuse, Utility Communications, the Bethel Police Department, and antennas owned by Valley Communications. The overall height of the existing facility is 107 feet above ground level with antennas. AT&T Wireless proposes to remove the existing guyed tower and install a 130-foot monopole in one of two locations on the site parcel.

Site A is located 114 feet south of the tower and would consist of the monopole and a 75-foot-by-75-foot compound at the base of the tower. Two equipment sheds associated with the existing tower would remain in their original location outside of the proposed compound and would connect to the proposed tower by a 90-foot cable tray. The Site B tower is approximately 31 feet southeast of the existing tower. A 75-foot-by-75-foot fenced compound incorporating the two existing equipment sheds would be constructed at the base of the tower.

The Applicant proposes to locate seven whip antennas up to 18 feet in length on top of the proposed 130-foot tower bringing the overall height of the proposed facility to 148 feet. The whip antennas would accommodate the needs of Thomas Refuse, Utility Communications, Valley Communications, and the Town’s emergency and public works communication networks.

The Council has carefully analyzed the record in this proceeding including coverage objectives and the appropriateness of the parcel to support telecommunications use. The Council finds a need for coverage in the central Bethel area for AT&T Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Due to the hilly terrain of the area, propagation from the site is marginal. Placing antennas for all three carriers ten feet lower than their proposed heights would degrade coverage on Routes 58 and 302 and render the site inadequate. The Council therefore finds a tower height of 125 feet, the antenna height requested by AT&T Wireless, justified. In addition, the Council recognizes the Bethel Police Department’s attempt to improve emergency communications throughout the Town by designating this site as the prime location for the placement of antennas. However, the Town’s specific coverage needs and antenna height were not demonstrated, therefore the record does not support the need for a 148-foot facility.

The Council finds the site appropriate for telecommunications use due to its current use as a tower site and the parcels’ location at the edge of a developed residential area. Little additional site development would be required. An access road and utilities already exist at the site. Some clearing of vegetation and minor grading would be required to develop either proposed site. Development of the site would not affect any wetlands or watercourses or any known rare, endangered, or special concern species. Site development would have no effect on archaeological or historic resources.

The Council finds Site A preferable due to its location in the center of the parcel. The nearest property line to the Site A compound is approximately 58 feet to the southwest whereas the nearest property line to the Site B compound is approximately two feet to the north. The Council believes the proposed Site A compound is larger than necessary to accommodate the proposed carriers. The Council prefers a smaller compound at the site with the use of appropriate landscaping and stockade fencing to reduce potential visibility of the compound from adjacent properties.

The Council finds the seven whip antennas proposed for the top of the tower would create a large visual profile that would be obtrusive. Based on the proposed visibility profile and the lack of demonstrated need for the whip antennas mounted at a height of 130 feet, the Council will limit the height of the facility to 125 feet with appurtenances. Visibility of a 125-foot facility is limited from nearby residences by the mature trees on the site parcel and the wooded hillside location of the adjacent neighborhood. Most views of the facility from area roads and affected residences would be of the top portion of the tower. Approximately seven residences would have year-round views of the top portion of the facility. An additional four residences would have only seasonal views.

The Council recognizes the Town’s intent to locate whip antennas at the highest possible elevation at the site. The Council encourages the Town to consider using the 95-foot level of the structure for the placement of antennas and to consolidate various communication needs onto a single antenna. If the Town finds coverage needs can only be met by placing whip antennas at the top of the structure, the Town must seek approval from the Council using the Petition process.

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 proposed Site A, 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 to Valley Communications, Inc. for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a 125-foot monopole telecommunications facility at proposed Site A and deny the certification of proposed Site B.

Prior to the submission of the Development and Management plan, the Council directs the Applicant to consult with the Town to discuss site construction details including clearing, grading, erosion controls, access road improvements, work hours, landscaping, and compound fencing.


Content Last Modified on 8/18/2004 12:31:25 PM