Letter: Cell-tower rules trample laws, rights
Published 10:50 am, Friday, April 18, 2014
Municipalities and neighborhoods in Connecticut are about to confront one of the largest "land grabs" in recent history with the proliferation of industrial cell towers in residential zones. Westport, Fairfield, Norwalk, Stamford and Easton are the latest towns to fall prey to this powerful industry transition --with Westport having the distinction of a 120-foot industrial cell tower located on residential property at 92 Greens Farms Road.
Backed by the financial resources of the industry's telecom giants and a business model that can best be described as a lucrative food chain -- which includes the property owner, cell tower company, telecom company backing the project and other companies renting space on the tower -- it is easy to understand why so many want to be part of the game.
As Westporters, we are raising our voices in opposition to the proposed tower and supporting noise-producing equipment at 92 Greens Farms Road, at the intersection of Hillspoint Road, one of only two evacuation routes for beach residents, surrounded by wetlands.
This is not a case of "not in my backyard" but rather a unified stand on the part surrounding towns opposed to the first of numerous assaults on our environment and quality of life.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was enacted to establish guidelines to insure the growth of what was a fledging industry. In 1996, few could have foreseen the massive "data flow" required for today's cell-phone applications, which the existing infrastructure cannot support.
The result is a classic case of demand exceeding supply and two powerful industries scrambling to catch-up by utilizing technology from the mid-1990s; and a strategy of "build more of the same massive steel structures to handle more capacity" instead of moving toward less invasive and proven DAS technology currently in use in several states.
What Connecticut citizens may not realize is that town governments have been removed from the decision-making process of where cell towers can or cannot be located and that their rights as voters have been compromised.
Connecticut, unlike the other 49, is the only state to have a siting council made up of appointees who have the authority to bypass all local municipal zoning and environmental laws in reaching their decisions.
A key component of the Connecticut siting council's decision-making process, if a "need" exists, is to prevent the "not-in-my-backyard" syndrome from stalling the proposed project. Moreover, federal policy does not allow concerns about the potential health effects from cell towers to be considered as an opposing argument.
If you are concerned about what could be coming soon to a neighborhood near you, believe that as a Connecticut voter and taxpayer you the have the right to have your voice heard and your town has the right to enforce its own laws, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org before a neighbor near you is seduced by the prospect of a lifelong annuity payment.
Citizens Against Industrial Cell Towers in Residential Zones