DOCKET NO. 242 - AT&T Wireless PCS, LLC d/b/a AT&T Wireless application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance and operation of a wireless telecommunications facility at one of two sites at 122 Route 6 (Andover Sportsmen Club), Andover, Connecticut.
October 14, 2003
On January 29, 2003, AT&T Wireless PCS, LLC d/b/a AT&T Wireless (AT&T) applied to the Connecticut Siting Council (Council) for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (Certificate) for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a wireless telecommunications facility at one of two locations at the Andover Sportsmen Club, 122 Route 6, Andover, Connecticut.
The public need for wireless telephone facilities has been determined both by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 which has declared a general public need for wireless service, established a market structure for system development, and developed technical standards that have restricted the design of facilities. These pre-emptive determinations by the FCC have resulted in a system of numerous wireless telecommunications facilities in nearly all areas of the country. Connecticut State law directs the Council to balance the need for development of proposed cellular telecommunications facilities with the need to protect the environment, including public health and safety.
The primary purpose of the proposed facility is to provide wireless telecommunications coverage to an existing gap on Route 6 between a facility to be constructed at 49 South Road in Bolton and an existing facility on Bunker Hill Road in Andover. Omnipoint Holdings, Inc. d/b/a T-Mobile (T-Mobile) has also identified a coverage need in this specific area. In addition to the two sites proposed in this application, Tower Ventures II, LLC filed an application with the Council (Docket 248) to construct a 150-foot monopole at the Bunce property, an abutting property to the east, that would provide coverage to the same target service area.
The Andover Sportsmen Club property contains several outbuildings, clubhouses, and shooting ranges serviced by a maintained dirt road. Proposed Site A is located in a wooded area adjacent to the upper clubhouse and shooting range and would consist of a 150-foot monopole facility. Development of the site would require the construction of a 95-foot access road and the removal of 16 trees greater than six inches in diameter at breast height (dbh). There are no wetlands or watercourses in the vicinity of the site.
Site B is located in a level open area north of the lower shooting range and would consist of a 170-foot monopole facility. Although a 130-foot facility at Site B would provide adequate coverage to the target service area, AT&T is presenting a higher tower for consideration to allow for a greater opportunity for tower sharing. A 295-foot gravel drive of new construction would be constructed to access the site. Six trees greater than six inches dbh would be removed during site development. A wetland area supporting brush vegetation is approximately 15 feet northwest of the site.
A multi-use recreational trail, the Hop River Valley Railroad State Park Trail, traverses the Andover Sportsmen Club property and abuts the Bunce property. The trail is approximately 825 feet east of Site A, 175 feet east of Site B, and 55 feet southwest of the Bunce site. The Site A tower would not be visible from the trail. The Site B tower is at a higher elevation than the trail and would be visible to trail users if they were looking up. The Bunce Site is at a lower elevation than the trail and would be visible to trail users for approximately 200 feet.
In addition to the state park trail, visual receptors in the vicinity of all three sites consist of the Route 6 travel corridor, several historic properties, and local roads in a rural residential setting. Site A would be visible from 0.4 miles of roadways within a 1-mile radius of the site; Site B would be visible from 1.3 miles and the Bunce Site would be visible from 0.9 miles.
Proposed Site B at a height of 130 feet provides the best coverage to the target service area for AT&T. The Bunce Site is the least preferred site for AT&T since it is at a lower ground elevation than Site A and Site B. T-Mobile expressed no preference for any of the three sites since their coverage analysis indicates no significant difference between the three.
Based on the record in this proceeding, we find that Site A would be less obtrusive to visual receptors in the area, especially the Hop River Valley Railroad State Park Trail, than Site B and the Bunce Site proposed in Docket 248. In addition, Site A is remote from wetland habitats and is sited close to a developed area on the Andover Sportsmen Club parcel. To accommodate the request of the town and to reduce the potential visual effects of the Site A tower, the Council will order antennas to be placed on the tower in a flush mounted configuration. This configuration will not negatively impact wireless service provided by AT&T or T-Mobile.
We conclude that the effects associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the telecommunications facility at proposed Site A, including effects on the natural environment; ecological integrity and balance; public health and safety; scenic, historic, and recreational values; forests and parks; air and water purity; and fish and wildlife are not disproportionate either alone or cumulatively with other effects when compared to need, are not in conflict with policies of the State concerning such effects, and are not sufficient reason to deny this application. Therefore, we will issue a Certificate for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a 150-foot monopole telecommunications facility at proposed Site A located at 122 Route 6, Andover, Connecticut. The Council will deny certification of proposed Site B.
Radio frequency power density levels at the base of the proposed tower would be well below federal and state standards for the frequencies used by wireless companies. If federal or state standards change, the Council will require that the facility be brought into compliance with such standards. The Council will require that the power densities be remodeled in the event other carriers locate at this facility.
The Wood Turtle, a State Species of Special Concern, occurs in the vicinity of the site. Potential impacts to the turtle population can be minimized if site construction activities occur during the turtle’s dormant period, which is November through March.
The Council will order that all construction activity be conducted during the time period of November through March to minimize potential impacts to populations of the Wood Turtle, a state species of special concern. In addition, the Council will order the installation of panel antennas using a flush mount design. Our decision will be conditioned upon the Certificate Holder submitting a Development and Management Plan for approval by the Council prior to commencement of any construction at the site.