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Keep Cell Towers Out of State Parks

Do you want more cell towers in our state parks & forests?

Do you want to see cell towers rising in Connecticut’s state parks and forests? Connecticut’s General Assembly in Hartford is considering a bill that would allow that to happen.

thinks it’s a bad idea.

A provision in a bill now before the General Assembly, An Act Modernizing the State’s Telecommunications Laws (SB 447), would allow communications companies to build towers in state parks and forests, with the approval of the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

This would fundamentally change the current state practice of not allowing towers on watershed land, state parks or state forests. Passage of the provision would lead to the construction of communications towers that would seriously damage wildlife habitat by causing forest fragmentation; cell towers are also a hazard to migrating birds.

The bill was recently passed by the Energy and Technology Committee, though not without dissent caused by the cell tower provision. It may soon come before the full General Assembly for a vote. You can read more about the proposal and the debate, here.

Let your representatives in Hartford know that this provision is a bad idea. Ask them to strike it from the bill. Tell them, “I am opposed to the provision in SB 447 that would allow cell towers to be built on state parkland.”

You can find your local representatives, and their contact information, on this page: http://www.cga.ct.gov/maps/townlist.asp

Connecticut Audubon Society is following the progress of several other bills in Hartford as well. You can learn more on our new Tracking Legislation webpage, here.

The full text of the bill is here.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Old Greenwich resident April 05, 2012 at 12:21 PM
I've been working as a consultant to various wireless carriers for seven years. In all that time, I have never seen a parcel as large as 5 acres. The largest standard size used by most carriers is 200'x200', and such a tower would accommodate multiple carriers, as well as public safety equipment. Given the financial state of many municipalities, leasing space to wireless carriers in parks would bring in much needed money (hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for a tower accommodating multiple carriers) and shift a portion of the maintenance of the area from the municipality to the carriers, freeing up resources for other priorities.
mary parker April 06, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Holy cow, there are a lot of opinions on this. We have power lines and towers all over. Cell towers are needed and if you look at the tree like tower on the Merritt parkway in Greenwich heck it looks like a tree. In the past storms that CL&P couldn't handle and most mountain or hilly areas have no cell service, put towers in parks so there is service in the areas. Fairfield tower on parkway had Bald Eagles on the tower. Towers can be benefit nature and humans without destroying habitat
Tim Haas April 06, 2012 at 01:16 PM
That is too funny. It looks like a tree to me. What's the problem? -- CT Yankee :-
DM April 06, 2012 at 01:40 PM
For those posters who have disdain for this 21st century technology you do realize your posted on the "World wide web" right!? Ask most anyone if they would prefer a cell tower in next to their home (not paying them rent) vs. one in a park. Think we all know this answer.
Siwanoy April 06, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I will side with you, and stand in the parks not letting them dig into the ground if you can show us studies that show that a cell phones primary use is, as you say "to talk about what's for dinner." If you can't, you're CLEARLY spewing BS. So please, do come back to us with those studies, we're all "ears".
Pam Georgas April 06, 2012 at 02:09 PM
This is an example of where local advise should be taken into consideration. Blanket rules rarely work in the best interest of individual communities. 'State parks' vary tremendously in their landscape and use. While it may be the best location, in one community, it may not work at all in another. In some cases, it could possibly be less invasive to the environment to place it in an area in a state park, than clearing a key town-owned wildlife greenway to place the tower. The state should work with individual communities to determine what makes sense and will have the least impact on our environment. It's all about balance.
mvl April 06, 2012 at 02:14 PM
@Tim, I don't have a problem with it. I found this poem on line and thought it was hilarious. To me, it looks very out of place and strange compared to the rest of the trees in the area. But as I had said, I guess it's better than a plain ugly cell tower :)
Teresa Gallagher April 06, 2012 at 02:27 PM
I do a lot of hiking alone. Last Sunday I hiked 9 miles. Last fall I broke my ankle several miles out on the trail. Fortunately, I had cell phone coverage. I also use my cell to check the radar when I hear thunder or am worried about rain or severe weather. And I have my cell set up to send gps coordinates to anyone who texts a certain word to the phone, something my husband and kids can do if they need to know where I am or don't show up at home for whatever reason. Yes, I was able to hike without these conveniences before cell phone. But I do enjoy a greater peace of mind knowing I have these capabilities with me. Most State Parks & Forest actually do already have really good cell coverage, except in the northwest corner. I suspect the reason they want to put towers there is not so that people using the parks have coverage, but to use the height of the land for their tower to improve coverage to nearby houses and businesses. Many of our highest points in the state are parkland. I've hike around a lot of tower on state land. They have a very small footprint and simply are not a big deal. The issue is more how they look from a distance, but even then people do get used to them and they even become landmarks to judge where you are. And I have an environmental background. These towers are no big threat to the environment.
Pam Georgas April 06, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Ditto Teresa. I feel safer walking in the parks with a cell in my pocket, and feel better knowing my teenagers do as well, when they hike in our local state park. We can not compare today, to 30 years ago. It is a different world.
Siwanoy April 06, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Cell_Less, I'd still like to hear about how someone "sounds" like a women through a post online.
Paul Improta April 06, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Sherwood Island, Rocky Neck, Squantz Pond and other parks have snack bars? Aren't those "commercial operations" in the parks? Surely a cell tower just sitting there is about as passive a "commercial operation" as you'll find; and I've never seen a cell tower that required five acres. Has anyone seen that ugly tree looking thing at the rest stop on the Hutch? That one takes up about 500 sq feet. If birds fly into towers, they also would die flying into trees. I suspect that to be a rare occurrence if ever.
manny romero April 07, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Should a site be chosen in an undelevoped area there is need not only for the tower and equipment foot print but also the need for ample slab set off the required distnce from the tower for the crane, not only for construction but also for the regular periodic service and upgrades throughout the life of the tower. Right there is a minimum of another 50' x 50'. Additionally, there is the requirement of an improved road to acces the site to be constructed and maintained. All this to be enclosed behind chain link fence. Then there is the power requirement, with cables to be buried underground along a right of way, that also must be granted and maintained. So there is much more than plunking a 100 foot square concrete slab and a tower in the middle of the woods. Alot more of the area would be cleared than most are aware. Picture a right of way under one of the power lines we have running through the north end of town, chopped back and regularly mowed down, gorwn in with only scrub, mostly of the invasive type. Besides, if you have ever been nearby one of these installations they give off quite a hum.
DM April 07, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Not to mention the cell phone companies pay rent to the landlord. That could be the town, state, fed.
John F. April 07, 2012 at 02:23 PM
How about using your cell phone when there has been an accident to call police and EMS, or someone has a heart attack or other medical issue? Nothing wrong with waiting for someone to go run to a land-line. I am sure time is not of the essence in those cases.
Cell_less April 07, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Maybe we should put advertising billboards on the hiking trails to generate more money money money.
manny romero April 07, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Just how does one propose to build a 100+ foot tower without a crane? That I dare say is an ill-informed statement. If you ever witnessed a servicing of one of these towers, for maintenance and upgrade, which if you look around as you travel the area, you will see a boom crane poking up above the skyline hanging a technician in a basket up among the pods. These serviceings happen much more than you would think and can only be facilitated from off the ground via crane.. And the road required to handle concrete, construction equipment, and service trucks and yes...A crane...will need to be a much more than a ATV rail. That there alone is a totally specious statement. And further, electrical code requirements dictate the distance of cutback required around the installation, and not just ground level but as well as height considerations. So it would be a much bigger swatch cut through the terrain and maintained as such.
Joe Machete April 07, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Cell_less: Maybe you should keep Girl Scouts out of NYC, maybe a building will fall over and crush them. Also, I imagine that a tree will fall over once in a while in a park. Should we keep Girl Scouts out of the parks too?
Cell_less April 07, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Wish I could fix every danger out there, but I can't. That doesn't mean we should give up and overlook every potential hazard. By the way, I don't think it's cool to mock 9./11.
manny romero April 07, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Should a site be chosen in an undelevoped area there is need not only for the tower and equipment foot print but also the need for ample slab set off the required distnce from the tower for the crane, not only for construction but also for the regular periodic service and upgrades throughout the life of the tower. Right there is a minimum of another 50' x 50'. Additionally, there is the requirement of an improved road to acces the site to be constructed and maintained. (just consider the number and types of trucks that will need access for the construction alone.) All this to be enclosed behind chain link fence. Then there is the power requirement, with cables to be buried underground along a right of way, that also must be granted and maintained. So there is much more than plunking a 100 foot square concrete slab and a tower in the middle of the woods, one of our state parks. Alot more of the area would be cleared than most are aware. Picture a right of way under one of the power lines we have running through the north end of town, chopped back and regularly mowed down, gorwn in with only scrub, mostly of the invasive type. Besides, if you have ever been nearby one of these installations they give off quite a hum. This goes completely against the original intent of why these lands were set apart for the public's use of "wild spaces".
louis April 07, 2012 at 09:59 PM
There is certainly some strange kind of collusion going on, or at least incompetence in the demoRepublican party here in Connecticut. This bizarre new elitism is creating a kind of group think where women's psychotherapy groups and corporate cell towers are being placed on public land. Not sure why there is no outrage amongst the political class, but perhaps it is because they are all in agreement, and the people have no power. This is not ideological as it is designed to promote the bizarre fantasy that is becoming Connecticut, a mediocre wonderland. Park Land is public spaces, intended for the use by the public in common, without profit as a purpose. These spaces are paid for through tax dollars, which are our monies, there is no guarantee that we will ever see any monies accrued from such a scheme in the future as the government has no sense of priorities or management abilities. It is almost as if Malloy is trying to ensure that a democrat never wins the Governor's office again
Joe Machete April 07, 2012 at 11:50 PM
I was not mocking 9/11. Don't be foolish. I was making a point about your statement regarding a cell tower falling over in a park and hitting future girl scouts. NYC was the first city that came to mind regarding tall buildings. Cell phones and all the other future devices are here to stay. Deal with it. They are not going away any time soon. Welcome to the 21st Century.
JennyAnne April 08, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I think it's sinful for someone to mock 9/11, especially around Easter!!!
Robert Henrichs April 08, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I like that description... "giant toilet brush". very appropriate. the "problem" with this installation is it is completely out of proportion to the surrounding (visual) environment. It is in the center of the road and is much taller than the surrounding trees, all of which look different than this decorated antenna. It is not, however in a parklike area, although it IS a "park"way. What I really like about it is that it is the perfect example of why decorating an antenna as a tree does not work. Ride by it... you really should see it. I get a chuckle every time I ride past!!!
Pam Georgas April 08, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Well, I don't understand how we can put a man in space, skype people in Japan, have 4g phones, fuel cell cars, heat our buildings with solar power, but we can't design a cell tower that doesn't look like a tree that hit a light socket?
mvl April 09, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Holy crap RB! I never knew it cost that much to make a cell tower into a tree-like object! @Robert: 'Fairfield Resident' mentioned above how they can be made to look like trees, and I just wanted to show an example of that. I giggle too every time I drive by this tower. :)
Pam Georgas April 12, 2012 at 10:56 AM
RB Where in fairfield is it? Does it cost more to convert these type of landmarks into cell towers, such as church steeples, etc. Is this why we don't see more of this type of solution, ...or do we see more of this solution, we just don't know what we are looking at because they are hidden? How many cell towers are hidden in steeples, etc, as opposed to freestanding metal?
Clyde Newman April 12, 2012 at 12:08 PM
I posted a picture of the windmill. The windmill RB is referring to is the Bronson Windmill that used to be used as a water pump. Here is a video of it: http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/fairfield_cty/fairfield-bronson-windmill
Pam Georgas April 12, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Thanks RB. There is a tall metal sculpture of a heron in the middle of Twin Brooks park pond in Trumbull. If he were a little bit taller, I bet he could work as a cell tower..... Before all the Trumbullites start screaming...I am just kidding!
Kathy Matyas April 27, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Dear Tom, Thank you for caring about protecting our parks and wildlfe. The only park that should have cell towers would be industrial parks and not within a Neighborhood. We are fighting a proposed cell tower at Ocean Beach Park, New London.. www.nobeachcelltower.com please follow us on facebook..bottom of that site and like us on facebook.
R Ayers November 08, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Seriously? You think a cell site requires 5 acres? That is the most ridiculous thing I've heard. I typical cell site uses an area about 50 feet square - and many can take up less than that. The actual tower is not the problem, as long as it is aesthetically concealed. The area of concern is getting power and telephone lines to the tower. If that can be done with little impact (say, along an existing road) then there is really no concern. More importantly, they are no longer considered just commercial uses - but are now considered critical infrastructure by almost all public service and safety providers (fire, police, etc). Like it or not, cell towers are an important part of our safety and communication networks, and are a necessity... some might argue "especially" in remote places such as parks and forests.

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