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Cell tower static: Marpe wants 'less-intrusive' site for Greens Farms plan

Published 5:57 am, Thursday, May 29, 2014
  • First Selectman Jim Marpe wants to find an alternative site for a 120-foot cell tower proposed on Greens Farms Road. Photo: Cathy Zuraw / Connecticut Post
    First Selectman Jim Marpe wants to find an alternative site for a 120-foot cell tower proposed on Greens Farms Road. Photo: Cathy Zuraw

 

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First Selectman Jim Marpe wants the company planning to erect a 120-foot cell tower on Greens Farms Road to find a "less-intrusive site" for it.

"We have been trying to work out a solution on this," Marpe said Wednesday afternoon of the proposal that has sparked neighborhood opposition.

So, Marpe said, he was "surprised and disappointed" when he was notified by North Atlantic Towers -- the company behind the plans for the tower at 92 Greens Farms Road -- is planning a "balloon float" June 3 to demonstrate the structure's height.

"As it stands now, there is no official application for this particular site, or any other site," he said. "We are hoping to find a solution before we get into the application process. That narrows the alternative for everybody involved."

He said complicating the matter is that North Atlantic is "an entity unto itself" and town officials have found it "difficult to establish any communication with them."

Marpe said that, if successful, the business would build the tower and then rent space to any or all of the four major cell-phone carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile.

"I have been in touch with a representative from AT&T, and he was unaware of this particular test," Marpe said of the balloon test.

He said he plans to work with neighbors of the proposed site to find an alternative, and would be "pressing AT&T and North Atlantic Towers to pursue other locations and technologies that are better suited for the town and this neighborhood."

Marpe said he's aware that a new cell tower would improve wireless service in the town, but said the solution he's looking for would be one where the tower placement would not be intrusive in a residential area, such as the one proposed. "You don't want a tower that tall standing in a residential area," he said.

During the test, two balloons will be floated -- one at the height of 110 feet (the height that AT&T needs), and another at a height of 150 feet," even though the height proposed is 120 feet, lawyer Julie D. Kohler of Cohen and Wolf, which is representing North Atlantic Towers, said in a press release.

"Flying balloons at heights of both 150 and 110 feet (with 10-foot incremental flagging in between and below to 100 feet) provides us with an opportunity to evaluate the top of tower height at 110 and have reference points for photographs and scaling," she said.

In case of inclement weather, the balloon float will take place June 4 or 5.