CSC: DO 222A Opinion
Opinions

DOCKET NO. 222A - Optasite, Inc. Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance, and operation of a wireless telecommunications facility at 459 Burr Road, Southbury, Connecticut.

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Connecticut

Siting

Council

January 4, 2006

Opinion

On May 21, 2002, the Connecticut Siting Council (Council) approved an application filed by the James E. Dwyer Co., Inc. for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a monopole wireless telecommunications facility, not to exceed 150 feet in height, at 459 Burr Road in Southbury, Connecticut. At the time of the approval, no wireless telecommunications provider expressed interest in the site, and therefore, an exact height of the facility was not specified in the Council’s Decision and Order. The Council conditioned the approval to allow for a petition filed by a wireless carrier demonstrating a need for the facility at a specific height.

On January 30, 2004, Connecticut Architectural Towers, LLC, (CAT) submitted a combined Petition and Development and Management Plan (D&M Plan) to the Council for the construction of a 150-foot monopole for use by Sprint Spectrum L.P. (Sprint) and AT&T Wireless PCS LLC (AT&T). The site presented in the D&M Plan did not conform to the Council’s findings of fact regarding the location of the facility.

Connecticut General Statute § 4-181a(b) allows an agency to, on "a showing of changed conditions", consider to "reverse or modify the final decision". On May 19, 2004, the Council, pursuant to this provision, reopened the final decision in this docket. The "changed conditions" in this case consist of a new location on the property for the facility and the proposed need of the facility by Sprint.

The Certificate was transferred to Optasite Inc. (Optasite) on December 1, 2004. The Council conducted a reopened docket proceeding on October 18, 2005. The intervenors to the proceeding were Sprint, New Cingular Wireless PCS LLC (New Cingular), and Omnipoint Communications, Inc. (T-Mobile). All three carriers seek to provide coverage to the Kettletown Road/ Georges Hill Road area of Southbury.

Optasite proposes to construct a 150-foot monopole and associated compound located in the center of a 37-acre mostly wooded parcel. The parcel consists of a wooded ridge containing a single-family residence at the southern edge of the property. The tower setback radius would be contained within the property. Access to the site would be provided by a 2,325-foot long gravel road that mostly follows an existing woods road on the property.

Development of the site would not affect any wetlands or watercourses, or any rare, endangered, or special concern species. Approximately 50 trees would be removed to improve the existing woods road and to develop the compound site. The site is not on a ridgeline, bluff, or notable promontory that provides a locally or regionally significant scenic vista. The proposed facility would have no effect on archaeological or historic resources.

Based on the lack of suitable existing structures and gaps in existing coverage for the three communication carriers, the Council finds a technical need for a new tower. The Council believes a 150-foot tower at the site would provide the necessary coverage for New Cingular, T-Mobile, and Sprint, and would allow co-location opportunities for future carriers below the 127-foot level of the tower.

The Council finds the site appropriate for telecommunications use due to its relatively remote location in a developing suburban area and minor environmental impact. Residential developments exist north, south, and west of the site. The nearest residence is approximately 724 feet northwest of the site, sufficiently screened by existing vegetation.

The greatest visibility impact of the site would be to a residential area 0.3-miles to the west where several residences would have views of the upper 25-30 feet of the tower. Additional residential areas located approximately one mile to the south and west would have distant views of the upper 30-50 feet of the tower. Seasonal views of the upper portion of the tower would occur from Rocky Mountain Road, a town designated scenic road 0.2-miles to the west.

According to a methodology prescribed by the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Bulletin No. 65E, Edition 97-01 (August 1997), the combined radio frequency power density levels of the antennas proposed to be installed on the tower have been calculated by Council staff to amount to 16.5% of the FCC’s Maximum Permissible Exposure, as measured at the base of the tower. This percentage is well below federal and state standards established for the frequencies used by wireless companies. If federal or state standards change, the Council will require that the tower be brought into compliance with such standards. The Council will require that the power densities be recalculated in the event other carriers add antennas to the tower. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 prohibits any state or local agency from regulating telecommunications towers on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such towers and equipment comply with FCC’s regulations concerning such emissions.

Based on the record in this proceeding, the Council finds that the effects associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the proposed 150-foot telecommunications facility, 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 tower at the proposed site at 459 Burr Road, Southbury, Connecticut.



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