Verizon has chosen two possible locations in Mansfield and plans to submit an application to the Connecticut Siting Council by February 2009.
Verizon Wireless wants to construct a 140-foot high cell tower in one of two locations off of Route 32 (Stafford Road) – either the Highland Ridge Golf Range or the Mansfield Drive-In, according to Town Planner Greg Padick.
Verizon intends to submit an application in February 2009 to the Connecticut Siting Council for its stamp of approval on one of these sites.
Mansfield Planning Department staff is reviewing the proposal, but local government does not have direct control over these kinds of telecommunications facilities. Under Connecticut General Statutes, the authority lies with the Connecticut Siting Council.
The town can, however, submit its comments – for or against the project – to the Siting Council, and will have the opportunity to weigh in at a public hearing.
Mansfield is currently in a similar situation with CL&P’s proposed expansion project.
‘Can you hear me, now?’
Town Manager Matt Hart was notified of the proposed project earlier this month via a letter from Kenneth Baldwin of the law firm of Robinson & Cole, which is representing the East Hartford-based Cellco Partnership/Verizon Wireless for this proposal.
“Cellco’s proposed Mansfield SW Facility would provide for much needed wireless coverage and capacity relief in the southwest portion of Mansfield and southeast portion of Coventry, particularly along Routes 31 and 32, and portions of Route 6, as well as local roads in the area,” Atty. Baldwin writes.
He adds that the project is meant to address “significant gaps in coverage” between Cellco’s existing cell tower sites which are:
- Coventry East – at 1776 Main St. in Coventry
- Coventry South – at 14 Thompson Hill Road in Columbia
- UConn – a roof-top tower at 855 Bolton Road on the UConn campus
- Mansfield Center – 230 Clover Hill Road in Mansfield, and
- Eastern Connecticut State University – on the water tank at 104 Tower Road in Willimantic
The new tower could be shared with the town, as well as other telecommunications services. “The availability of space on the proposed facility towers may reduce, if not eliminate, the need for additional towers in the town for the foreseeable future,” Atty. Baldwin writes.
Plan A: the Drive-In
These two locations appear the be the best choices for this part of town. Cellco explored other locations but, ” each of the alternatives considered were either rejected by Cellco radio frequency (RF) engineers or by the landowner who was unwilling to enter into a lease for a cell site,” Atty. Baldwin’s letter states.
Cellco’s first preference is the Mansfield Drive-In location, a 24+ acre parcel owned by Janet H. and Michael R. Jungden, that lies within a Planned Business 5 zone.
Cellco wants to construct a 140-foot telecommunications tower and install up to 15 panel-type antennas at the 137-foot level.
Equipment associated with the antennas and a propane-fueled, back-up generator would be located inside a 12′ x 30′ shelter near the base of the tower.
A 1,000-gallon propane storage tank would also be installed within a 110′ x 100′ leased area in the north part of the parcel.
Access to the site would be from Route 32/ Stafford Road using an existing gravel driveway and the drive-in parking area for a distance of about 1,360 feet, with a new gravel driveway extension of about 140 feet.
Plan B: the Golf Range
The alternative is the nearby Highland Ridge Golf Range on Route 32, a 43+ acre parcel at 164 Stafford Road that lies within a Rural Agricultural Residence-90 zone.
Again, Cellco wants to build a 140-foot tower, but install up to 10 panel-type antennas at the 137-foot level.
Equipment associated with the antennas and a propane~fueled back-up generator would be located inside a 12′ x 30′ shelter near the base of the tower. And a 1,000-gallon propane storage tank would be installed within a 100′ x 100′ leased area in the southeast portion of the parcel.
Access to this site would be from Route 32/ Stafford Road via an existing gravel driveway, a distance of approximately 1,390 feet, then over a new gravel driveway extension of about 60 feet.
‘Can you see me, now?’
Cellco conducted a study of whether or not the towers would be visible. At the Mansfield Drive-In, the tower would be visible above the tree line year-round from, “approximately 92-acres within the 2-mile radius study area surrounding this location,” Atty. Baldwin’s letter states.
A tower constructed at Highland Ridge Golf Range site would be visible year-round above the tree line, “from approximately 66 acres within the 2-mile radius study area surrounding this location.”
Cellco also states that “neither facility will impact inland wetlands or watercourses, within or near the tower compound.” And that, “All other physical environmental effects associated with the proposed facility would be minimal.”
Radio Frequency emissions
The company also made a study of potential radio frequency (RF) emissions and how they compare to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standards of exposure to RF emissions.
“This calculation is a conservative, worst-case approximation of RF power density levels at the closest accessible point to the antenna (i.e., the base of the tower), and with all antennas transmitting simultaneously on all channels at ‘full power.’ ” The result would be 18.07 percent of the FCC’s standard, the letter states.
‘Do you need me, now?’
Cellco is currently working with Middletown-based Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. to prepare a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Screening Checklist, which would determine whether the tower would have a significant impact on the environment.
The NEPA Checklist will include information from the Environmental and Geographic Information Center of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State Historic Preservation Officer.
Atty. Baldwin writes that even if there were environmental concerns, they may not weigh as heavily with the Connecticut Siting Council as the need for good cell service. “Cellco submits that the public need for high quality wireless service, and a competitive framework for providing such service has been determined by the FCC to be in the public’s interest and that such public need far outweighs any perceived environmental effects of the proposed facility.”
Posted Dec. 15, 2008
For more information see: http://mansfield.htnp.com/news/verizon_eyes_two_mansfield_sites_for_tower.html