CSC: DO 291 Ashford Opinion
Opinions

DOCKET NO. 291 - National Grid Communications, Inc. application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance and operation of a wireless telecommunications facility at one of two sites located on Knowlton Hill Road, Ashford, Connecticut.

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Connecticut

Siting

Council

October 26, 2004

Opinion

On April 19, 2004, Tower Ventures II, LLC (Tower Ventures) applied to the Connecticut Siting Council (Council) for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (Certificate) for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a wireless telecommunications facility at one of two sites located on Knowlton Hill Road in Ashford, Connecticut. Omnipoint Communications, Inc. (T-Mobile) was an intervenor in this proceeding and expressed a willingness to share the proposed telecommunications facility. The purpose of the proposed facility is to provide wireless telecommunications service to existing gaps along Route 44.

Tower Ventures proposes to construct a 180-foot monopole at proposed Site A-1 or Site A-2. AT&T Wireless would locate antennas with the centerline at the 177-foot level of the proposed tower. T-Mobile would locate antennas with the centerline at the 167-foot level of the proposed tower.

On September 2, 2003, in a technical report to the Town of Ashford, the Town of Mansfield and the Town of Willington, Tower Ventures originally proposed a 150-foot tower at the proposed sites. A 150-foot tower would be an adequate height to accommodate T-Mobile antennas at the 147-foot centerline. Subsequently, AT&T Wireless expressed an interest in locating antennas on the proposed facility but would require a minimum height of 177 feet. On January 12, 2004, Tower Ventures submitted a revised technical report for a 180-foot tower at the proposed sites.

AT&T Wireless did not request intervenor status in this proceeding.

Tower Ventures would be willing to construct a 150-foot structure, which would be designed to expand to 180 feet in the future.

Both of the proposed sites are located on an approximately 95 acre parcel, which is part of an approximately 313 acre dairy farm owned by the Estate of Royal O. Knowlton and three of his heirs. Proposed Site A-1 is located in the north-central portion of the parcel within a wooded area. Proposed Site A-2 is located approximately 600 feet to the east of proposed Site A-1 in the northwestern portion of the parcel at the outer edge of a corn field.

There is one residence within a 1,000-foot radius of proposed Site A-1, which is located approximately 845 feet to the east of proposed Site A-1 and is owned by the lessor. There are three residences within a 1,000-foot radius of proposed Site A-2, the nearest of which is 870 feet to the northwest of proposed Site A-2.

The proposed sites are located within the Willimantic Reservoir Watershed. Tower Ventures would review the Best Management Practices of the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) to ensure the safety of the drinking water supply. Tower Ventures would avoid the cleaning of equipment at the proposed sites to eliminate the possibility of contamination from equipment chemicals.

Wetlands have been delineated to the east of the proposed Site A-2 compound.

There are no known existing populations of federal or State Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern Species at the proposed sites. Construction of the proposed facilities would have no effect on Connecticut’s archaeological heritage or on properties of traditional importance to Connecticut’s Native American communities.

The removal of approximately 30 trees that are six inches or greater in diameter at breast height (dbh) would be required for the construction of the proposed compound and access road at Site A-1. No trees that are six inches or greater dbh would have to be removed for the construction of the proposed Site A-2 compound and access road.

The proposed Site A-1 180-foot tower would be visible from approximately 176 acres year-round and an additional 91 acres seasonally, within a two-mile study area. A 150-foot tower located at proposed Site A-1 would be visible from approximately 132 acres year-round within the study area.

The proposed Site A-2 180-foot tower would be visible from approximately 106 acres year-round and an additional 91 acres seasonally, within a two-mile study area. A 150-foot tower located at proposed Site A-2 would be visible from approximately 81 acres year-round within the study area.

Proposed Site A-1 and Site A-2 would be visible from portions of Knowlton Hill Road, Howard Road, Wormwood Hill Road, and on Knowlton Pond. Seasonal visibility is expected along Summit road, which is a town of Mansfield designated scenic road, for both proposed sites. Proposed Site A-2 would have greater visibility than Site A-1 from locations to the west, while Site A-1 would have greater visibility to the east.

The proposed Site A-1 tower would be visible from five residences year-round and an additional three residences would have seasonal visibility. The proposed Site A-2 tower would be visible from seven residences year-round, and an additional four residences would have seasonal visibility.

Based on this analysis, the Council finds that although the proposed Site A-1 tower would be visible from a larger area, this site would have the least visual impact to the surrounding residences. The Council will order the construction of a tower at a height of 150 feet above ground level (agl) at Site A-1. The tower shall be designed and constructed with the ability to expand to a height of 180 feet agl. The type of antennas to be installed on the tower shall be determined by the Council in the Development and Management (D&M) Plan.

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, the Council finds 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, the Council will issue a Certificate for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a 150-foot monopole at Site A-1 located on Knowlton Hill Road in Ashford, Connecticut and deny the certification of Site A-2.



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