Procedural machinations leading toward construction of a cellular communications tower in Ridgebury have begun — and a public hearing in Ridgefield should be part of the process, according to First Selectmen Rudy Marconi.
“I did have a meeting with AT&T and their attorney,” Mr. Marconi said Monday when asked about expectations concerning land that Wilton Bank sold to a cell tower development company in May — without any involvement by the town.
“What they said is they’re partnering with the company that is going to be building a cell tower in Ridgebury, and stated that I would be hearing in the near future from the siting council,” Mr. Marconi said. “During that meeting I specifically requested that there be a public hearing that takes place here in Ridgefield, and they agreed.
“But all of this has to go through the siting council he added. “There’s still a great deal more information that has to be gathered to complete the application for submittal to the siting council.”
The Connecticut Siting Council is a body created by the state to decide locations for facilities that serve the public but are often unwelcome in neighborhoods and municipalities, including cell towers, power lines, and waste disposal sites.
Melanie Bachman, acting executive director of the siting council, said the process allows for local input, although municipal authorities don’t have the power to approve or deny locations.
“There is a statutory requirement that the cell tower company consult with the host municipality for at least 90 days before they submit an application to the council,” she said.
The carrier would submit a technical report to the town’s chief elected official — in Ridgefield, the first selectman — and other interested local agencies such as zoning and wetlands boards, might be included.
If a “public information meeting” is sought by local officials, the company proposing a tower is required “to make a best effort” to have it.
The siting council conducts formal public hearings at its office in New Britain. The hearings must be noticed 30 days ahead in a newspaper that circulates in the area where the tower is proposed, Ms. Bachman said.
Tuesday, a day after Mr. Marconi said he’d met with an AT&T representatives, Chuck Coursey, spokesperson for AT&T Connecticut, issued a brief statement confirming the company’s involvement in a Ridgefield tower project.
“For several years AT&T has been looking for a solution to provide needed reliable cell coverage for our customers in the northwest section of Ridgefield,” the statement said. “We’re continuing that effort and working with Homeland Towers toward that goal.”
Danbury-based Homeland Towers describes itself as a company that “provides wireless infrastructure solutions” for clients that include “cellular carriers.”
Homeland did not respond to a request for comment.
In May Wilton Bank sold a three-acre house lot, just off the intersection of Old Stagecoach Road and Aspen Ledges Drive to InSite Towers LLC, based in Alexandria, Va., for $265,000.
“InSite Towers LLC owns, operates and manages wireless tower site facilities, and is currently developing sites throughout the United States,” the firm’s website says
Tim Peterson, director of business development for InSite, said at that time that “there had to be an interest from a party” for the firm to close on a land purchase.
“We did close on it,” he added. “There’s two carriers that have expressed interest in the site.”