Marconi: Cell company looking at several sites

A private company is working on plans for a tower — or towers — that could improve cell telephone communication in northern Ridgefield, according to First Selectman Rudy Marconi.

He raised the issue Wednesday night, Nov. 28, at a public hearing on the Conservation Commission’s plan to buy land off Ledges Road that had been proposed in the past as a cell tower site that could benefit service in Ridgebury.

“I did speak with a company that is researching other locations in that area,” Mr. Marconi said. “…And feel confident by the first of the year they will be making an announcement.”

He offered no details such as the name of the company or the locations they are studying. Since negotiations with property owners are continuing, the company is reluctant to make details public, he said.

But he said the negotiations appear promising.

“They said they felt very comfortable and felt they would have a completed negotiation by January,” Mr. Marconi said.

The company is looking at up to three sites, Mr. Marconi suggested.

“What we’ve been told, this isn’t one single location. They may need multiple locations,” he said. “Cell towers need to be able to see each other.”

The first selectman’s announcement came in the context of a public hearing at which several speakers decried the lack of cell phone service in parts of Ridgebury and north Ridgefield, particularly in the wake of Storm Sandy, the third major storm in about a year that left many residents without land lines and electricity, and forced to rely on cell phones.

“I’m here for the purpose of advocating a cell tower,” said Fred Morrison of 84 Sugar Loaf Mountain Road. “We have no communication out there.”

In 2011 the selectmen and the Conservation Commission collaborated on a joint purchase of the 28-acre property off Ledges Road for $1 million, but it was rejected by voters after vehement neighborhood opposition to renting part of it as a cell tower site.

Now the commission has re-negotiated a purchase for $825,000, and rejected the selectmen’s suggestion to again hold some land aside as a potential cell tower site.

Controversy over the commission’s decision appears to have been defused by Mr. Marconi’s announcement that a private company is looking at different sites for cell towers that would improve service in Ridgebury.

A town meeting on the proposed conservation purchase is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 in town hall’s lower level conference room.

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  • rdg-oldtimer

    Fred! If you have “NO communication out there”,is this the first time it is being brought to the BOS attention? None? Sounds like you want to jump on the “me too” cell bandwagon. Yes/No? Or, is your statement the way that Mac interpreted it?

  • Kirk

    Multiple cell towers … wow … this plan gets better every time they spin it around. By the time this is done it will be cheaper to buy every home in every cell dead spot a satillite phone.

  • Chris Glidden

    Let’s not forget that cell towers are not an answer to communication problems during storms. I live in the Knolls and have reasonable cell service through my T-Mobile work phone. My wife has a Verizon cell phone and gets good service. During Sandy (and the preceding storms) our cell service stopped working as power failures knocked out the cell towers. The cell towers do have backup batteries and generators, but they don’t last forever. We didn’t see our cell service return until the Thursday after Sandy struck.

    I don’t think the cell tower discussion is about safety at all. What accidents would have been prevented if cell service was better? Certainly not the Old Sib incident. And if coverage at the schools is a concern, install some call boxes or a microcell. Both options are relatively quick and cheap, but for some reason, no one has explored either option.

    If folks have bad cell service where they live, they can look into microcells to boost coverage in their homes. Many cellular providers offer them for free.

    I just don’t understand why Mr. Marconi is so determined to see a cell tower in Ridgebury. I don’t think it is a safety issue or a political victory – I really can’t fathom why he is so determined to execute this plan. I just don’t understand why the town is so focused on solving what is really a consumer inconvenience.

    • Kirk

      Follow the money …. past efforts have used the cell tower/safety line of BS to try and justify having the Town put money into land purchases. This is probably more of the same … ya just have to go to the meetings and wait for the real reason to emerge.

    • Lisa

      Hey. Did you figure out why we need a cell tower yet? Huh????

      • Kirk

        No … obviously neither has Rudy or he would be promoting the idea each and every day.

  • Big Bones McGee

    On Novermber 28th, the First Selectman indicates that a private company is looking at three sites for a cell tower, but less than two weeks earlier (11/19)
    he is pushing the Conservation Commission to set aside land from the Ledges property for a cell tower. What gives?

  • The 3rd bone got in the way

  • Chris Glidden

    I don’t recognize the reference, Jan.

    And I am all for following the money, but I don’t see where it leads – I can’t see a how a private cell tower brings the town any income.

    I attend as many of these meetings as I can, which isn’t very many, unfortunately. Busy family life…

    • Kirk

      Well … They will be paying taxes or rent to some one … Maybe the town … For the land use … And maybe some per cent of the tower revenue …. All of these options were in the mix last go round. It will come out as this unfolds. The only thing that is certain is that it is only remotely related to safety issues if that figures in the formula at all.

  • Chris: sorry should have added a smiley or something; reference is to Mr. Marconi’s head.

    As for income, if tower is put on public land, town will get rental fee, $50-$100k possible. However, if it is put on private land, town would get zero AFAIK.

    Originally, I had thought that Mr. Marconi’s reference to a possible January deal was w private land owners because it wouldn’t require a redux of the last cell circus.

    OTOH, I don’t know why that would require a conversation between Marconi & th cell tower companies unless some kind of licensing is involved.

    I think revenue may have something to do with Marconi’s change of direction that BB McGee references; i.e. he was trying figure out how to capture some of the cell tower income for Ridgefield’s coffers if it was on town land but that ain’t happening if they are talking to private land owners.

    If the latter is the case it will be interesting to see what neighborhood screams first & there is nothing that I know of that the town can do about it unless there is something in the zoning regs.

  • Big Bones McGee

    Nothing wrong with leasing land Town already owns for cell tower use. It is a bad idea, though, for the Town to spend money buying land then leasing it out such as Rudi apparently was contemplating with the Ledges property being acquired by the Conservation Commission.

  • BBM – We agree & you’re right except I imagine most of the land the town owns is deed restricted thru conservancy. They also acquire land in lieu of tax which may not be deed restricted.

    But suppose the town owns a piece of land & wants to lease to cell tower & the neighbors object — NIMBY. Then what? We’re back @ sq 1.

  • fedupwithrudy

    Somehow Rudy will get his hands greased.

  • fedupwithrudy

    Its been over 1 year that that the cell tower was denied. One of the reasons for a tower was to have cell service at RHS. Why hasn’t Rudy Marconi solved this issue? As Chris Glidden mentions, which was brought up last year as well, there are microcell boosters to improve service in an area. Why haven’t we heard from Rudy Marconi that he’s investigated this and come up with a solution for the parents of RHS ? Does he really care ? Or is this just another lame excuse he is using for a cell tower? If he could could only come with a valid reason… FYI – just for all those expecting this to be the end all for bad service in the area Rudy has stated in the past that this cell tower will only cover 1 mile and not cover the entire area of Northern Ridgefield. It might time to get Rudy to discuss the details of his plans and the benefits….if he had any.,.He’s such a great Selectman, open and honest, when is the next election? Not soon enough.

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