COLEBROOK—While the debate over placing wind turbines in Colebrook rages on, the Connecticut Siting Council will take up the topic of building another kind of structure in town.
Cuddy and Feder, LLP and New Cingular Wireless, PCS, LLC—also known as AT&T—will send representatives to Colebrook Town Hall April 11 to discuss a proposed cell phone tower.
The meeting, scheuduled for 7 p.m., is for informational purposes; questions and comments will be on an informal basis. Informational and technical reports are available at Colebrook Town Hall for public review.
According to the announcement, the proposed site will be at 522 Colebrook Road, roughly a half mile south of the Colebrook Consolidated School. The proposed tower would supplement an existing cell phone tower on Colebrook River Road, which was approved in February 2005 by the siting council, as well as another tower two miles east of Colebrook, along Route 44, which is disguised as a tree.
Colebrook residents and BNE Energy are currently engaged in a battle over a proposed pair of wind farms in town. The debate over the turbines, as well as a similar proposal in Prospect, cost Connecticut Siting Council chairman Daniel Caruso his post. Mr. Caruso resigned after accusations of ex parte communications with an attorney representing an opposition group surfaced.
Mr. Caruso, who also serves as the Fairfield probate judge, allegedly spoke to Save Prospect attorney Jeffrey Tinley after both were in Mr. Caruso’s probate court for an unrelated matter. Mr. Caruso stepped down March 24, and his replacement, former Stamford Land Use Bureau chief Robin Stein, awaits confirmation from the state legislature, and now serves as acting chairman.
Mr. Caruso also drew criticism for his conduct regarding another proposal in the area. Cornwall residents Fred Thaler and Kathleen Mooney accused Mr. Caruso of dismissing their concerns during an evidentiary hearing on a proposed cell phone tower on Bell Road Extension.
Cornwall town attorney Perley Grimes—who, along with the Cornwall Planning and Zoning Commission and Housatonic Valley Association, called for the proposal to be denied—also said that due process had not been followed during the meetings, claiming they were excessively unfair.
The tower was eventually approved, and the decision came as no surprise to Cornwall First Selectman Gordon Ridgway, as nearly all of the applications that come before the council are approved.
The turbines have also attracted legislative action and calls for specific regulations. An act that would have instituted a moratorium on wind turbines in Connecticut until regulations could be drafted was referred to the Committee on Planning and Development by the House of Representatives Tuesday. The original bill was replaced with one that emphasizes the regulations in question, but retains the moratorium.
The bill calls for regulations on setbacks, including considerations of tower height and distance from neighboring properties, flicker, a requirement for the developer to decommission the facility at the end of its useful life, different requirements for projects of different sizes, ice throw, blade shear and impact on natural resources. Any projects submitted before the bill’s passage, including the Colebrook proposals, will be granted an opportunity for modification in order to comply with the new regulations.
Information from Max Wittstein was used in this report.
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