MONROE, CT — Despite citizens’ online petition opposing the location, ARX Wireless still plans to construct a 170-foot cell tower on town property, behind the former Chalk Hill School building on Fan Hill Road.
The company had agreed to assess alternative properties, but during a meeting on Monday, First Selectman Ken Kellogg told the Town Council ARX Wireless determined 345 Fan Hill Road was the best location.
Town Council members received copies of the proposed contract between ARX Wireless and the town, which members will review before their Sept. 16 meeting. Kellogg said members of the public will have an opportunity for input then.
“People can comment at that meeting,” he said Thursday. “The Town Council will not take action before then, so there is an opportunity for the public to know they can speak.”
The first selectman also said he believes a site plan would come before the Planning and Zoning Commission because of the municipal use.
A Change.Org petition opposing allowing a cell tower so close to Fawn Hollow Elementary and Jockey Hollow Middle schools garnered 70 signatures.
When having discussions with ARX, Kellogg said finding the least impactful location, while achieving needed coverage in the area was his overarching concern.
ARX Wireless wants to construct the tower in the woods on the 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 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, according to Kellogg.
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.
The town hired the Rosemark Law firm, which is based in Danbury, to provide legal expertise in negotiations with ARX Wireless.
According to the proposed agreement, ARX would enhance the town’s public safety radio network, providing fiber optic lines, equipment and a generator, while connecting the town’s radio system to the tower.
The town will pay the company back for the equipment using $55,000 of the money it brings in from the agreement, then reducing the amount of rent it receives by $850 a month.
“We’re paying it back over a long period of time without any interest and getting a positive revenue stream going forward,” Kellogg explained.
The town would receive a $25,000 credit up front towards the equipment and $6,000 up front for the option period, as well as $7,000 for its legal and consulting fees.
The town would receive $8,000 each for the tower’s first three tenants, then $5,000 for each new commercial tenant after that.
According to the agreement, the town would receive either $2,250 a month in rent from ARX Wireless or 40 percent of the gross revenue the tower brings in, whatever is greater.
The contract proposal includes escalators. Rent would increase by 2.75 percent a year and after 60 months the town could receive up to 45 percent of the gross revenue if it is greater than the rent, after 120 months (10 years) that rises to 50 percent of gross revenue.
“We’re getting this upgrade to our system, but also rent from the company, or the share of the gross revenue, whatever’s greater,” Kellogg said.