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    Sunday, June 23, 2024

    Groton PZC criticizes Noank cell tower proposal

    Groton ― The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission plans to send comments to the Connecticut Siting Council that a proposed 155-foot cell tower at 70 Marsh Road in Noank is not consistent with the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.

    Tarpon Towers III, LLC had notified the town on March 23 that it was beginning the 90-day “consultation period” with the community before it planned to file an application with the Connecticut Siting Council, the state agency that approves the location of cell towers.

    In its draft comments to be sent to the Connecticut Siting Council, as well as the company, the Planning and Zoning Commission cited concerns over the impact of the proposed tower on views of Fishers Island Sound and on species living along the shoreline, as well as safety concerns over the proximity of the proposed tower to the railroad tracks.

    The proposal calls for a cell tower for Dish Wireless and AT&T, as well as two additional wireless carriers in the future, to “provide enhanced wireless communications and improved 911 service in this area.”

    The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission, which serves as the planning agency for Noank, on Tuesday gave town staff the go-ahead to send a letter with comments to the Siting Council. Individual comments from three Planning and Zoning Commission members also will be attached to the commission’s main letter.

    “The POCD recommends that scenic views be protected and this tower will interfere with views of Fishers Island Sound,” according to the draft comments from the commission. “The POCD also recommends protection of natural resources and the Commission notes that there are a number of listed species along the coastline from Bluff Point to the Mystic River. The protection of natural resources results in a number of economic benefits, including increased property values.”

    The commission also said the tower “appears to increase service to a very small number of households in the Noank area” and said the service instead could be enhanced by upgrading one of the about 11 existing towers in the four-mile radius around 70 Marsh Road.

    “If the intent of the tower is to increase service to households on Fishers Island, tower locations should be explored there,” the commission added.

    The commission further said it has safety concerns due to the closeness of the proposed tower’s location to the railroad tracks, should the tower fall on the tracks or the overhead wires.

    A statement of public need included in the application states that the proposed cell tower would provide reliable cell service to the area. Dish Wireless “seeks to provide wireless service to a largely residential section of Noank including residents and travelers in the area of Morgan Point, Enders Island, Esker Point Beach other roadways and properties in the area,” according to the application.

    The tower would be located between the foundry building and a boat storage building within a mostly residential and commercial marina area.

    The town’s Conservation Commission sent a May 2 letter to the Siting Council with issues it found with Tarpon Towers III’s technical report, including that the report only addresses the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issue of the northern long-eared bat, but does not address potential impacts to wildlife found in the Natural Diversity Data Base. The Natural Diversity Data Base “is a program for the protection of Connecticut’s native biological diversity, with emphasis on our most vulnerable species and ecosystems,” according to the state’s website.

    The Conservation Commission also said the radio frequency emission analysis report “does not address any impact to the around the clock wildlife exposure and potential impacts to nesting sea birds, and other wildlife found in the NDDB area.”

    Melanie A. Bachman, executive director of the Connecticut Siting Council, said the Siting Council has not yet received an application for a tower in Noank and explained that there is a municipal consultation process required before an application is submitted to the Siting Council.

    Once an application is received, the Siting Council sends a correspondence to the municipality requesting written notification of any location preferences for the proposed facility, and also holds a public hearing.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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