Siting Council Holds Hearing In Shelton

Orange residents who want to voice their concerns about a proposed cell tower at 831 Derby Milford Road will have a chance to speak directly to the Connecticut Siting Council.

They’ll just have to go to Shelton to do it.

Selectman Mitch Goldblatt found the council’s decision to hold a public hearing in Shelton for a proposed site in Orange disturbing. His understanding was the council originally wanted to use the High Plains Community Center, but was deterred when they discovered the it houses a day camp in the summer. So the council chose the auditorium at Shelton’s Town Hall, 54 Hill Street, Shelton, as the next best location.

“We have other spaces the council could use,” Goldblatt said.

“They didn’t call our office,” First Selectman James Zeoli said. He also seemed baffled as to why the siting council didn’t try to use an alternative location in town.

The hearing on July 17 will commence at 3 p.m., in the Shelton Town Hall. That session will largely be for the applicant, Cellco Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless, to state their case for the site to principal interests.

Another session will be held that evening at 7 p.m. The later hearing is for concerned citizens to briefly voice their concerns.

Notice of the Shelton hearing was posted at the proposed site on Derby Milford Road.

The site was proposed back in January. It met with opposition from nearby residents who questioned the necessity of another tower in an area that already provided adequate phone service.

“What you have to realize is this isn’t about phone coverage, it is about data usage,” Zeoli said. The tower proposal would allow for an increase in bandwidth for higher capacity data networks, like Verizon’s 4G service.

While the tower is proposed for a residential neighborhood area, the location itself is a farm field. The nearest home to the tower is an estimated 850 feet according to Zeoli.

At 2 p.m. on the day of the hearing, July 17, the siting council will meet with applicants and other approved parties at the Derby Milford Road location. There the applicant will float a balloon to demonstrate the height of the proposed tower.

Initially, town officials thought the hearing held in Shelton would discuss multiple proposed sites; including ones in other towns. Shelton officials also initially thought the council might be looking at sites in their town and were surprised to see the request to use their auditorium was solely for a singular site in another municipality.

Goldblatt noted that besides the potential availability of other locations in town, including the public meeting room at Orange Town Hall and the public library, precedent is being set to move the day camp for events anyway. The High Plains Community Center is slated for use during the upcoming Republican Primary. That would require working around or temporarily displacing the day camp.

“I just find it disturbing that our residents will have to go to Shelton,” Goldblatt said.