About This Site

Irving Snow and Message Center Management (MCM) are preparing to submit an application to build a 161 foot cell tower on his property at 550 Sport Hill Road in Easton. This structure will dramatically and irrevocably alter the beauty and character of Easton. Every individual who drives up Sport Hill Road will see this cell tower. Every potential homeowner has to decide if they would like to live in a town whose beauty is marred by an inappropriate blot on the landscape.

A group of Easton citizens has come together and founded a group called “The Sport Hill Coalition Against The Cell Tower.” We are  leading an opposition against any tower on Snow’s Farm and need your support! We have created this site as an information resource so that every Easton citizen can stay up to date. The site will also serve as a tool for citizens who want to join our effort and take action.

To be clear our group is NOT against enhancing cell coverage in our town. We do understand that many people in Easton DO want better coverage. We are simply against the placement of an ugly tower on Snow’s Farms as it will destroy visual integrity of our town. The proposed cell tower will service primarily the area around Sport Hill Road and even its proponents acknowledge more towers will need to be built to provide adequate coverage elsewhere.  The cell tower proposed for Snow’s Farm will be an eyesore seen by each Easton resident driving up or down Sport Hill Road, visiting the General Store or Silverman’s Farm. Its shadow will loom over the children playing with the animals at the Silverman’s petting zoo. Its presence will be noticed by every visitor who comes to the Carnival, pumpkin patch or Christmas Tree picking. We cannot allow this tower to be built!

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Congressman Jim Himes Adds His Support

Below is a letter from Congressman Jim Himes.

Download the letter here

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Gov Rell Weighs In

CT Governor Jodi Rell sent the following letter to Chris Fisher, attorney for MCM.

Download both pages of the letter here.

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9 Reasons to oppose a cell tower on Snow’s Farm

1. Easton has no commercial development

The town of Easton has no commercial development or industrial area and is entirely dependent upon its rural, agricultural and historic tourist appeal for its economy.  It is often said that no one moves to Easton for convenience or for that matter seamless cell phone coverage.  There are no markets, banks, cleaners or ice cream stores.  A cell tower in the center of Easton is incompatible with the town.

2.  Easton is a farming community

There are 22 farms in Easton catering to the public in the form of pick-your-own orchards, herb farms and Christmas tree farms.  In fact, the Christmas tree that was chosen for Rockefeller Center in New York City came from a private residence in Easton.  15,000 people purchased Christmas trees from Maple Row Tree Farm this year and traveled on Sport Hill Road past Snows Farm.  Farming is the heritage and culture of Easton.  The proposed cell tower will destroy an historic farm and part of the Town’s heritage.

3.  Snows Dairy Farm is an historic site

Snows Dairy Farm, where the proposed cell tower will be sited, is an historic farm which has been in existence since 1912.

4.  Neighboring farms will be harmed by cellular tower

Next door to Snows Dairy Farm are two other farms.  On one side is Silverman’s Farm which was founded in the 1920’s and has apple picking in the fall; sells Christmas trees in the winter; and has a children’s petting zoo. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people visit Silverman’s Farm each year.  On the other side of Snows Farm is Sport Hill Farm which is a community supported agricultural farm (“CSA”). Both neighboring farms which are dependent upon tourism will be harmed since a looming cell tower will belie the rural  and agrarian values the two farms represent.

5.  State of Connecticut invested to preserve Easton

Ten years ago, the state of Connecticut spent $90 million to purchase 19,000 acres of watershed land from the former Bridgeport Hydraulic Co. (now Aquarion).  5,000 of these acres are in the town of Easton.

6.  Easton is the guardian of the water supply of Fairfield County

Easton is the guardian of two major reservoirs which provide clean drinking water to much of Fairfield County.  Much of Easton including Snows Farm Dairy is “on the watershed”.  As such, Easton is obligated to maintain a pristine water supply.  We are well aware that generators which are contained in the bases of cell phone towers must be maintained at a steady temperature of 77 degrees.  This temperature requirement is often compromised by poor maintenance or insufficient power due to power outages.  Improperly maintained generators have been known to break down, and leak fluids into the ground thereby polluting underground water supplies. Accordingly, the entire water supply of lower Fairfield County is being jeopardized by this potential hazard.

7.  Sport Hill Road is an historic road

Sport Hill Road, formerly known as Jackson Pike, was the site of road races which took place at the turn of the last century.  Within a half mile of Snows Farm is DuPont’s 30-acre open meadow, a former farm.  This farm is being deeded to the Aspetuck Land Trust.

8.  The proposed tower is “poorly sited (per Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s letter of December 17, 2009)

Easton is a farming community.  Visitors to Easton buy farm products at its farms traveling by way of Sport Hill Road.  It is the key corridor in the town.  Every person traveling through Easton will see this monstrosity.  Sport Hill Road is effectively a community center for Easton.  Within a thousand feet of this proposed tower is the location of the fireman’s carnival which has been held annually since 1937.  The land at Snows Farm is flat and no trees will provide cover for the tower.

9.  There are two existing cell towers in Easton

Easton already has two existing cell towers.  One is on a former town dump on North Street and one is on a farm on Everett Road.  Since one farm in Easton already has a cell tower located on it, we believe it would be inappropriate to deface another farm in this farming community.

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Easton Courier Article – 12/23/09

Blumenthal opposes cell tower at Snow’s Farm; Veterans Field site also being pursued by MCM

Written by Brad Durrell
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 07:25

Opponents to putting a proposed 160-foot-high cell-phone tower at Snow’s Farm are encouraged by a letter opposing the idea written by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

“This proposed cell tower is poorly sited in a residential neighborhood, and could adversely affect the health of the surrounding community,” Blumenthal wrote in an undated letter to Chris Fisher , attorney to Message Center Management (MCM), the company that wants to build the tower.

Blumenthal said if the proposal is pursued, “I will vigorously oppose it.”

June Lee, a Hickory Knoll Drive resident who is organizing the opposition, said Blumenthal had been instrumental in having a cell-phone application for Burr Street withdrawn about six years ago so his support is important.

Lee said Blumenthal has indicated he’s concerned about the tower’s potential impact on the town’s “economic health, cultural health and social health. He’s taken a strong stand.”

By planning to continue pursuing the project, Lee said, the expected applicants “are showing blatant disregard for the attorney general of the state of Connecticut.”

Blumenthal’s letter came before MCM representatives met with First Selectman Thomas A. Herrmann and decided to include a town-owned Veterans Field site as one of three alternatives to increase cell coverage in the central part of Easton.

The other two possible sites are on the 57-acre Snow’s Farm — one near the main barn and close to Sport Hill Farm, and the other set back farther from the road in a slightly lower elevation.

In the past, MCM representatives have described the Veterans Field as less desirable because it would require a 199-foot-high tower due to lower elevation, and still provide coverage to a smaller area.

Herrmann favors the town-owned site because he thinks it would have less impact on the community, being less visible to nearby homes and drivers on main roads, and also would bring in lease income for the town. When asked, Herrmann said the Veterans Field site “does have disadvantages when it comes to coverage.”

There are fewer houses near the Veterans Field site, which is wooded and at the northern tip the parcel near where South Park Avenue turns into Old Oak Road.

Lease negotiations

The three-member Board of Selectmen authorized Herrmann to negotiate with MCM on the Veterans Field site. Herrmann said the town and MCM have discussed possible lease terms. “We’re still in negotiations,” he said.

The town Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) recently reversed itself and provided a favorable recommendation to the Veterans Field site. The P&Z gives advisory opinions on projects involving the use of town-owned land but plays no formal role in deciding where cell-phone towers can be placed.

The Connecticut Siting Council now decides where to place cell-phone towers, and approval from local zoning and wetlands boards is not needed. The Siting Council does consider community input when making its decisions, although it has approved almost all applications it has received— albeit with requested changes.

A federal law encouraging the creation of seamless telecommunications coverage from coast-to-coast makes it hard to stop the construction of cell-phone towers. This law also forbids blocking towers based on concerns about physical health issues.

MCM had planned to file its application with the Siting Council as early as Jan. 4, but that now may be delayed to allow time to add Veterans Field to its application.

“They will hold up until they have time to do their due diligence” on Veterans Field as well, Herrmann said.

However, he said, the company does want to move forward as soon as possible with the application process.

Herrmann said the idea is to provide the siting council with an alternative to the two possible Snow’s Farm sites. The siting council will eventually hold a public hearing in Easton on the proposed sites.

Companies such as MCM build cell-phone towers and then rent space on the towers to carriers such as Sprint, AT&T and Verizon. Property taxes must be paid to the town on the equipment.

“Just inappropriate”

Lee said the proposed Snow’s Farm tower is more properly described as 165 feet tall because it includes a base. “Having a tower this tall next to a one-story house is just inappropriate,” she said.

She said the tower would include a 50-foot by 75-foot perimeter at its base for equipment.

Lee said opponents have spoken to several attorneys with expertise on cell-phone-related matters, but have not hired a lawyer yet. When a cell tower was proposed about eight years ago on Snow’s Farm — a time when local zoning and wetlands approval still was necessary — neighbors did hire an attorney. The earlier proposal eventually was withdrawn.

Lee said having a tower at Veterans Field, while still problematic, would at least “get it out of the center of town. Any person who comes to Easton drives on Sport Hill Road. It’s not the kind of structure you want in the center of a rural town. It would be jarring and inappropriate.”

Still, she opposes putting a tower anywhere in Easton because of its unique rural beauty.

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Channel 12 Reports Our Story

As reported by Connecticut Channel 12:

Cell phone tower splits Easton residents

(12/22/09) EASTON – A battle over cell service in Easton has some neighbors on opposite sides as a proposal for a new cell tower is being considered.

A planned 160-foot cell phone tower has some residents concerned about surroundings they’ve always considered peaceful.

“[The neighborhood] was beautiful and I think that will be gone if they put that tower up,” says June Lee.

Watch the report here.

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Fairfield Minuteman Covers Our Story

12/24/2009
Easton says no to cell tower
By Jarret Liotta , Contributing Writer

EASTON-A group of Easton residents are vehemently communicating their displeasure over the possible construction of a new cell phone tower in Easton.
A Hartford-based company called Message Center Management, Inc. (MCM) is planning to submit an application for an Easton tower on or after Jan. 4 to the Connecticut Siting Council, according to a notice of intent letter distributed to residents living near one proposed site. The tower, which would rise over 150 feet, may be built on one of two spots on Snow’s Farm, a private residence along Sport Hill Road just north of Silverman’s Farm, or could be erected in Veterans Field, which is owned by the town.
“I live on Hickory Knoll Drive and I found out about two weeks ago that a company was about to make an application to put a cell tower on the farm,” said June Lee, who has lived in town for 37 years. ”The farm itself is 57 acres, and one of the sites that was selected is just yards from Sport Hill Road,” she said, next to a barn near Route 59. “Site B is further back on the property, but because of the way the land is arranged,” she said, it will still create an eyesore.”

“They can’t do that,” Lee said. “These monied interests cannot come and they cannot destroy our town.
Lee, who hosted a meeting of about 30 like-minded oppositionists at her home this week, said the group will “see to it that our town is not defaced by these ugly structures.”
“I’ve lived here for 37 years and I think it’s a crime to be carving up the town unnecessarily,” she said. “I think everyone should have cell service, but I don’t think this is the way to do it.”
“We plan to have an all-out battle against the MCM corporation that wants to do something that it is very detrimental to Easton,” she said.
There are currently two existing cell towers in Easton. One is on North Street, at the former dump site owned by the town, and the other is on Everett Road on a private farm.
Last week the Planning and Zoning Commission again offered the Veteran’s Field site as a viable alternative, after having originally not endorsed the spot. This, however, was seen by opponents of the Snow’s Farm proposal as a kind of victory, because they believe the change was motivated by their vocal opposition.
“We are offering it as an alternative,” said First Selectman Thomas Herrman.
He said that neither he nor anyone on the Board of Selectmen was qualified to say whether there was a need for a new tower in town. “That is the job of the siting council.”
“I’m completely in understanding as to why they’re unhappy about it” he said of the residents opposed to a tower.
“It’s very difficult for Easton because we are a rural community that prides itself on rural character and its agrarian history, and there is nothing rural about a cell tower,” he said.
James Riling, who grew up in town, and whose property abuts Snow’s Farm, has also joined in the fight to stop the construction.
“Obviously our preference is for the cell tower not to go on Snow’s Farm property,” he said, however he doesn’t like the idea of anyone having to suffer with the structure near them.
“I recognize that Easton does need additional cell phone coverage,” he said, but “I don’t want to pit neighborhood against neighborhood.”
While he said he certainly doesn’t want the tower near his own home, “on the other hand, I don’t want people near Veteran’s park to suffer the same fate.”
“Frankly, I’m not sure what the answer is,” he said.
“We do need the cell phone coverage, but I know it doesn’t belong at Snow’s Farm,” he said. “That would be a tragedy to the aesthetics of the town.”
While MCM said they would submit the application “on or after Jan. 4th,” according to Riling, it may be months until a decision is reached.
“We’re sort of in a wait-and see-what’s-going-to-happen mode,” he said.
“There’s a lot of moving parts to this,” he said.
“This is something that the town of Easton cannot have happen,” Lee said. “I love this town and I would hate to see it be destroyed bit by bit by companies that are only interested in money.”

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MCM Says It Will Still Apply On or After 1/4/10

The following is cut and pasted from a letter, which citizens on Hickory Knoll Drive received this week. Despite our strong opposition, MCM and their lawyers at Cuddy & Feder, appear to be moving forward with their application. We must act now. Sign our petition and take action.

We are writing to you on behalf ofour client Message Center Management with respect to the above referenced matter and our client’s intent to file, sometime on or after January 4,2010, an application with the State of Connecticut Siting Council for approval of a proposed wireless communications tower facility (the “Facility”) within the Town of Easton. State law requires that owners of record of property that abut a parcel on which a Facility is proposed be sent notice of an applicant’s intent to file an application. This notice is being sent to you m advance and in accordance with state law.

The Facility is being proposed to allow FCC licensed wireless carriers to provide their services in this area of Easton. Once filed, the Application and its contents wlll explam the need purpose and benefits ofthe Facility, any potential alternatives and also describe the potential environmental impacts ofthe proposed Facility. The property which is the subject of this notice and being considered for the proposed wireless telecommunications facility is located at 550-560 Sport Hill Road/State Route 59 also known as Snow’s Dairy Farm. The applicant proposes to construct one Facility and has proposerl two alternate lo<:ations for the Facility.

The Alternative “A” Facility would consist of a 160′ self-supporting monopole and gravel compound designed to accommodate the equipment building/shelters of several wireless carriers. The tower would be capable of accommodating panel and other antennas on low profile platforms. The tower and equipment would be enclosed by a chain-link security fence and gate. Vehicle access and utilities to the tower compound would extend from Sport Hill Road (Route 59) along an access drive to the compound location in the northern section ofthe parcel near existing barns.

(Image above is a photo simulation of what the tower at “Site A” would look like as viewed from Sport Hill Road. This image was not included in this letter, but was part of the report, which is located at Town Hall).

The Alternative “B” Facility would consist of a 160′ self-supporting monopole and gravel compound, enclosed by a ehain-link security fence and gate, designed to accommodate the equipment building/shelters of several wireless carriers and would be capable of accommodating panel and other antennas on low profile platforms. Vehicle access and utilities to the tower compound would extend from Sport Hill Road (Route 59) along an access drive on the Snow’s Dairy Faml property, continue over the property of Amell & Philip L. Snow and enter once again onto the Snow’s Dairy Farm parcel where it would proceed to the compound location in the southern section ofthe host parcel near a cleared area ofthe property.

(Image above is a photo simulation of what the tower at “Site B” would look like as viewed from Sport Hill Road.  This image was not included in this letter, but was part of the report, which is located at Town Hall).

The proposed Alternative A and B facilities have been the subject of municipal consultation with the Town of Easton Board of Selectmen and Town of Easton Planning Zoning Commission. Any suggestions regarding revised compound locations on the host property, alternative tower structures and/or other features of the proposed facilities that may be made by such agencies may be incorporated into the Facility design as part of the application process. Additionally, the location, height, and other features of the Facility are subject to review and potential change under provisions ofthe Connecticut General Statutes Sections 16-50g et. seq.

If you have any questions concerning this matter, please do not hesitate to contact the Connecticut Siting Councilor the undersigned after January 4,2009, the date after which the application is expected to be on file with the Council.

Very truly yours,

Christopher B. Fisher

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Poll

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New article in Connecticut Post

Easton residents fight cell tower plans

By Susan Silvers Staff writer

Updated: 12/21/2009 09:52:28 PM EST

EASTON — For residents here, the question of where a new cell phone tower should go is one that doesn’t have any good answers, no matter how many choices there are.

Now in the mix: a portion of undeveloped town land bordering Veterans’ Field and South Park Avenue, which the Board of Selectmen decided last Thursday to consider offering to a Hartford company as a potential alternative to two sites on Snow’s Farm that had sparked fierce opposition.

It’s not yet clear, pending analysis of conditions such as soil suitability and radio frequency range, whether the company, Message Center Management Inc., will find the town site suitable for a tower that MCM would build and make available to wireless providers for antennas. Maria Scotti, MCM’s operations director, said it would take at least several weeks to determine that.

What’s clear is that plenty of residents don’t like a cell phone tower of any size, anywhere.

“Why does the town want to get into this?” demanded Thomas Dollard, a resident of Old Oak Road. He complained that the town has not done “due diligence” by talking about the possibility with such users as parents of students at Helen Keller School or with residents who use the Easton Community Center or town athletic fields.

“I think they’re trying to make a knee-jerk reaction to try to stop Snow’s Farm,” he said of what might be a 199-foot tower. Instead, he added: “I would rather see them fight every tower to make sure it’s absolutely necessary and the towers are kept to a minimum.”

“I don’t think Easton should have any cell towers period,” declared June Lee, a resident who reacted to the Snow’s Farm prospect as a call to arms, circulating computer-generated photos of what a 160-foot cell phone tower might look like on Sport Hill Road, a main town thoroughfare. She also convened a meeting for residents in her living room and pleaded with Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for help.

Blumenthal said Monday he would oppose the Snow’s Farm sites as “simply too close to residential neighborhoods” that would “pose unnecessary health risks and other potential harm.” He said he’d want to review any other sites on their merit as well.

Despite residents’ anger, no Connecticut community has the power to prevent the erection of cell phone towers. That authority is vested in the Connecticut Siting Council, to which MCM said it intends to apply in early January.

Scotti said the company has been seeking a site in Easton since 2003, but that identifying one isn’t easy. “Easton has some tough issues,” she said, referring to its “hilly, curvy” terrain.

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Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Pledges His Support

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sent Chis Fisher the following letter stating his opposition for the tower sites chose at Snow’s Farm.

Download the letter here

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Easton Courier Article – 12/17/09

Snow’s Farm cell-phone tower opponents step up efforts

Written by Brad Durrell
Thursday, 17 December 2009 11:58

June Lee is ready to do battle to stop a 160-foot-tall cell phone tower from being built at Snow’s Farm.

“To me, Jan. 4 is D-Day,” Lee said of the day less than three weeks away when Message Center Management (MCM) may file a formal application to place a tower on the 57-acre farm on Sport Hill Road.

A group of opponents, including some neighbors of Snow’s Farm, gathered Monday night in Lee’s living room to organize opposition to placing a tower on one of two potential sites on the farm that borders Hickory Knoll Drive, where she lives.

They know they may face an uphill battle because of federal and state legislation that favors allowing the towers to create a better wireless telecommunications system.

The Connecticut Siting Council, an appointed statewide agency, decides where to put cell towers and permission isn’t needed from town zoning and wetlands commissions, although input from municipal officials and local residents is considered during the deliberation process.

That means the situation has changed from when Easton residents organized to fight proposals — successfully, in a few cases — in the past.

Statewide, the Siting Council has approved the vast majority of applications, although most have been altered during the process.

“We have to be a force to be reckoned with,” Lee said of the need for visible public opposition in Easton.

Opponents also must decide how to react to the town’s push to offer an alternative site for a tower in the northern end of of the Veterans Field property, near where Old Oak Road becomes South Park Avenue.

First Selectman Thomas A. Herrmann. who attended part of the meeting, said the best way to stop a tower from going up at Snow’s Farm is to suggest another viable site. He said the Veterans Field site has fewer homes nearby, is less visible and would bring the town lease money.

The town Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) reversed itself earlier this week to give a favorable recommendation to the Veterans Field site. The P&Z was asked to make an advisory opinion on this property by the Board of Selectmen since it involves town-owned land.

Lee said the P&Z’s reversal was influenced by growing public opposition to the Snow’s Farm proposal. “We made a lot of noise in a very short time,” she said.

The town already has two cell phone towers — one at the town-owned former landfill on North Street and the other on a private farm on Everett Road — as well as a small communications tower on a hill at Silverman’s Farm.

Participants at the meeting worried that more tower proposals are coming in Easton, particularly in the western part of town near Black Rock Road.

Town approach reaction

While some people favored Herrmann’s approach at the meeting, others were opposed.

“I feel as though we’re a little boxed in, based on what the town did,” said Princie Falkenhagen. She favors opposing all possible sites to make a stand, a view shared by former First Selectman William Kupinse, a vocal critic of cell phone towers in Easton.

“How uncomfortable can we make it for MCM?” Falkenhagen asked.

Tom Dollard agreed. “We don’t want cell towers,” said Dollard, complaining the towers are needed more for vehicles passing through town than for Easton homeowners.

Falkenhagen said people will accept reduced cell coverage in Easton in return for a rural way of life. “There are certain things you buy into when you move here,” she said, mentioning the lack of retail stores and other conveniences.

Some others didn’t want to put a tower near Veterans Field, Easton Community Center and Helen Keller Middle School; and others felt supporting Veterans Field just involved moving the problem to someone else’s back yard.

James Riling suggested taking “a pro-active approach,” which might involve identifying the least objectionable location in town. He also said Easton needed to find out how other towns have fought towers and if it made sense to hire lawyers at this stage.

Riling also pointed out there are people in town who do want better cell phone service.

Jeff Becker said an economic argument may be most effective, convincing telecommunication firms that Easton isn’t densely developed enough to need so many towers. “What are you trying to do — provide coverage for the cows?” Becker asked.

Lee said an argument could be made that Easton is “a very unusual town” because of its rural character. She said a tower at Snow’s Farm would turn Easton into “an ugly, defaced mess.”

Irv Snow reacts

Irv Snow said he doesn’t understand town officials’ push for Veterans Field. “It’s awkward because it’s taller,” he said.

A tower at Veterans Field likely would likely be 199 feet tall due to its lower elevation, and still would provide coverage to a smaller area.

This would increase the possibility an additional tower would be necessary in the area. Representatives at MCM have called it a less desirable location.

Snow was taken aback by the P&Z reversal on Veterans Field, attributing it to political factors in town. “It’s weird how they have taken a 180-degree turn,” he said.

He said it would benefit neighbors to support his cell phone tower because the added income would keep the farm financially viable. “If we don’t do something like a cell tower, the farm could change dramatically,” he said of the possible need to develop the land.

The last time there was an effort to put a cell tower on his family’s farm, Snow said, a tower was placed at the town-owned landfill instead.

“It seems like they want to help the farmers but then don’t really want to help the farmers,” he said.

Herrmann was scheduled to meet with MCM officials on Dec. 16 to discuss the Veterans Field site now that it’s been backed by the P&Z. He said MCM might delay its application to better study the town-owned site and consider possible lease terms.

Herrmann said if an alternative to Snow’s Farm isn’t proposed, the Connecticut Siting Council almost certainly will support one of the Snow’s Farm sites.

He realizes some people don’t want any towers in town, and oppose both the Snow’s Farm and Veterans Field sites. “It’s like saying would you like your hand or foot cut off?” Herrmann said.

Herrmann said the selectmen’s policy is for the town to only offer a town-owned site as an alternative when a more objectionable private site has been proposed.

Opponents also discussed ideas such as distributing a petition against the towers; investigating alternative transmitting technologies such as using satellites or having multiple small transmission towers; increasing the height of existing towers both in and near Easton to increase coverage; and approaching Irv Silverman and an abutting property owner about putting a tower at the top of a hill that might cover most of the town.

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Easton Courier Article – 12/11/09

P&Z rejects town-owned cell-phone tower site in Veterans Park

Written by Brad Durrell
Friday, 11 December 2009 16:35

The Board of Selectmen will not ask the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) to reconsider its recommendation against putting a cell-phone tower on the north part of Veterans Park, near Old Oak Road.

The P&Z concluded the potential site was too close to homes, could someday be used for a recreational trail or bike path, and might not provide coverage to a wide enough area to prevent another tower from being built in the vicinity.

The P&Z decision appeared to surprise the selectmen, especially First Selectman Thomas A. Herrmann, but it was good news for the Snow family.

The town site was expected to compete with an application for a cell-phone tower on the Snow family’s 57-acre farm on Sport Hill Road. Two possible sites have been identified for a proposed 160-foot tall tower on the Snow property.

The P&Z’s recommendation was based on a request by the selectmen to use town-owned property for a tower, which requires a so-called 8-24 referral from the P&Z.

The Connecticut Siting Council decides where to place cell towers, not municipal agencies.

Herrmann had pushed for the town-owned site because the lease money then would go to the town. The town also collects property taxes on cell-phone towers, whether they are on private or public land.

Herrmann suggested asking the P&Z to reconsider its decision, or make a new recommendation on what municipal property in that area would be acceptable, but Selectmen Scott S. Centrella and Robert H. Lessler didn’t support such actions.

The idea of asking the P&Z to identify any acceptable town-owned sites for cell-phone towers throughout Easton, for future reference, also was raised.

“Under what circumstances would town land ever be considered?” Herrmann asked, based on the P&Z decision.

In its recommendation, the P&Z pointed to language in the town master plan stating that the Veterans Park site be used for a public recreational trail or bikeway.

It also pointed out a taller tower, perhaps 199 feet tall, would be needed at the Veterans Park site and it still would provide less coverage.

The selectmen spent some time trying to figure out how a trail or bikeway from Veterans Park would connect to the town center, as the P&Z said was suggested in the master plan.

Herrmann said the P&Z had failed to consider the “visual impact on the neighborhood” in its decision. He thinks the Snow tower sites would be visible from more homes — as well as a main road — when compared to the Veterans Park site, which is in a less developed area and at a lower elevation.

He also said the P&Z decision didn’t consider the “economic impact” on the town of lost revenue from a possible cell-phone tower lease on municipal property.

Herrmann said the P&Z decision meant the Snow proposal would “go uncontested.”

However, Centrella said, “I don’t have a problem with Snow’s getting some income from this.” Centrella added he only supports the Snow’s Farm site that is farther from Sport Hill Road.

“If it ends up at the farm, that’s OK,” agreed Lessler, who participated in the meeting by speaker phone due to poor health.

Former First Selectman Bill Kupinse, a critic of cell-phone towers in Easton, said the selectmen should pass a resolution against having any cell-phone tower built near Sport Hill Road.

“There’s nothing wrong with you taking a position” against all the sites, Kupinse said.

Will apply soon

A representative of the company that wants to build a tower on Snow’s Farm said a formal application to the Connecticut Siting Council likely will be filed in early January.

No town agency has sent any communication to the council on the Snow’s Farm proposals yet, although that is expected to happen. It appears most officials prefer the site farther away from Sport Hill Road, and that could be stated in future correspondence.

Maria Scotti, of MCM, the company that would build the Snow’s Farm tower, said MCM expects to file applications for both potential sites on the property. “We are fine with either,” she said.

Irv Snow said he prefers the site away from the road. “But it’s really up to the Siting Council,” he said.

A Siting Council hearing will take place in Easton as part of the application process. Scotti said those hearings usually take place two to three months after an application is filed.

Scotti said the Snow’s Farm sites would provide more expansive coverage than the Veterans Park site. “It’s best to go with the site with more coverage so you don’t end up with two towers when you only need one,” she said.

In general, Scotti said, there now is less opposition to cell-phone tower sites than in the past.

“Most towns today, and this is true across the country, have come to the realization that the consumer has embraced wireless communications technology,” she said. “It’s not a technology you can hold back anymore, based on consumer demand.”

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