MONROE, CT — An online petition opposing the location of the 170-foot cell tower proposed on town property, behind the former Chalk Hill School building on Fan Hill Road, garnered 66 signatures on Change.org.
Rachel Cook-Northway, of Fan Hill Road, sent the petition to First Selectman Ken Kellogg in an email and Kellogg included it on the agenda for the Town Council’s meeting on Dec. 14.
“As I’ve stated, I am concerned about the potential health risks to our children with the tower being so close to the schools,” Cook-Northway wrote. “I do hope we can work together and find another location for the tower that would still service the school and surrounding area.”
The site is close to Jockey Hollow Middle and Fawn Hollow Elementary schools. Townspeople attending a public information meeting organized by Kellogg last September pressed the developer, ARX Wireless, to consider alternative locations for the tower.
At the end of the meeting, representatives of the firm agreed to fully evaluate other sites, before moving forward on the one at 345 Fan Hill Road.
When having discussions with ARX, Kellogg said finding the least impactful location, while achieving needed coverage in the area was his overarching concern.
During the Town Council’s meeting last Monday, Chairwoman Enid Lipeles said she noticed 17 of the names on the petition were not those of Monroe residents. But Town Attorney Frank Lieto assured her that is common for petitions. The Town Council accepted the petition into the record.
The tower proposal
ARX Wireless wants to construct the 170-foot tower in the woods on a 72-acre town-owned property at 345 Fan Hill Road, just north of the Chalk Hill building. It would house antennas and equipment for Monroe’s emergency services with room for cellular carriers.
AT&T, which has had a cell on wheels (a.k.a. a COW) in front of Fawn Hollow Elementary School since December of 2012, has expressed interest in the tower and, if it is approved, an existing tower behind the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department would be removed.
The new tower would improve poor coverage in that part of town and space would also be available for Verizon, T-Mobil and the Dish Network. The town would receive revenue from leasing its property and benefit from having its emergency services equipment on the tower, according to ARX Wireless.
Kellogg has said a tower is needed, because the Connecticut Siting Council, which has jurisdiction over cell towers, has granted the town a couple of extensions for its COW, which eventually has to be removed.
If the tower is placed on town property, ARX Wireless will need Town Council approval of a lease agreement with the town and a site plan approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission.