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    Sunday, June 23, 2024

    Noank residents speak out against cell tower proposal

    Groton ― More than 20 residents spoke out Thursday evening against a proposed cell tower at 70 Marsh Road in Noank that they said would have a detrimental impact on property values, views, quality of life, wildlife, the environment, and the quaint and historic character of the village.

    They also raised concerns about the proposal’s impacts on safety and health, questioned the need for the cell tower and urged for other locations to be considered during the meeting where more than 100 residents gathered at the basketball court outside the Noank Fire House.

    Tarpon Towers III LLC has not yet submitted a formal application to the Connecticut Siting Council, the agency that has jurisdiction over approving cell tower applications in Connecticut. The company notified the town, Noank Fire District, and Groton Long Point Association on March 23 that it was beginning the 90-day consultation period before applying to the Siting Council.

    Noank resident Elisabeth Pendery said a cell tower would cause visual blight in the seaside village, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

    “A tall communication tower on Noank's seashore and marina is not in character with our town according to the Natural Historic Preservation Act,” she said. “I urge Tarpon Towers to consider other viable locations and options to provide enhanced cell service.”

    She also raised concerns about the proximity of the tower to Groton-New London Airport, health effects, and safety effects, particularly with the tower located by a marina and neighborhood and adjacent to the railroad tracks. She also said the tower is a threat to wildlife, because during low cloud or foggy conditions, birds fly into cell towers or wires.

    Noank resident Liz Lanza said she purchased a home in Noank with her husband about 10 years ago for reasons that include the historic nature of the town and the beautiful views of the seaside, but she now wakes up in the middle of the night with stressful thoughts about whether they made the right decision and what is going to happen to their investment.

    She said studies have shown that home prices within close proximity of a cell tower, can decrease up to 21%. Rather than a new tower, she called for leveraging the existing towers in the area.

    In light of emerging technology, residents, such as Kip Wiley, questioned the need to build a tall tower — and who will take it down.

    “I want to submit the consideration that in 10 years or less, this is going to be completely obsolete,” he said.

    Dish Wireless and AT&T said in a technical report that they are proposing a cell tower, adjacent to the railroad tracks and on a site where there also is a foundry building and boats storage, because they “require more reliable service in this area of Noank/Groton.”

    The proposal says that Dish Wireless wants 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, and other roadways and properties in the area.

    But some residents were skeptical of this stated coverage area.

    According to the agenda, the special meeting of the Noank Fire District Zoning Commission was not a formal public hearing but was scheduled to listen to comments “in a way that allows the greatest number of Noankers to be heard and that is most beneficial to the Fire District Executive Committee in determining the nature of potential comments to the Connecticut Siting Council, should a formal application be submitted by Tarpon Towers.”

    Zoning Commission Chairman Rick Smith said the meeting was an opportunity for residents to give it feedback and the commission will consolidate their views, and then have the executive committee submit an organized comment from the Noank Fire District to the Siting Council.

    He said the fire district has until around the end of June to submit a list of preferred alternative sites and the fire district has hired a technical expert to provide advice. The district has also requested Tarpon Towers hold a public information meeting, where the company would have a presentation and accept comments.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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