Cell tower firm buys Ridgebury lot

The green area is approximate location of open space recently purchased by the town.

The green area is approximate location of open space recently purchased by the town.

A cell telephone tower appears to be in the works for a site in Ridgebury.

An empty three-acre lot on the heights overlooking Ledges Road has been sold to a firm that specializes in wireless communications towers.

The Wilton Bank sold the property for $265,000 to InSite Towers LLC of Alexandria, Va.

“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.

InSite claims to own more than 650 towers in 37 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Canada.

The lot that sold is just off the intersection of Old Stagecoach Road and Aspen Ledges Drive. It has access easements to pass over nearby town land.

The lot is said to be within about 50 feet of the location town officials had in mind for a cell tower site, before neighborhood opposition scuttled that plan in 2011.

Late last year, the Conservation Commission purchased a large tract in the area — 28 acres — as open space, with no cell tower planned.

The lot that just sold is adjacent to that land, and has no conservation restrictions.

“It’s a site that we looked at, a site we had to purchase the land before we moved forward,” said Tim Peterson, director of business development for InSite. “But in our case, there had to be an interest from a party in order to do that.

“We did close on it,” he said. “… There’s two carriers that have expressed interest in the site.”

Will the neighborhood again fight the tower plan?

“Yeah, probably,” said Jim Belote of Spire View Road, one of several near neighbors concerned about the previous cell tower plans.

“I’ve heard that it’s off the market,” he said of the lot Wilton Bank had owned.

Opposition might vary with the specifics of a tower.

“It depends on where it goes,” Mr. Belote said. “The whole purpose of the Conservation Commission buying this whole piece of property was to preserve the ridge, and beauty of the ridge and the lands.

“And now there’s a chunk that was not bought, and the beauty of the ridge apparently is going to be marred with a cell tower.”

Cell tower construction is exempt from local zoning regulations under state law, but must go through an approval process with the Connecticut Siting Council, a special body created to approve the locations for facilities that are often unwelcome in neighborhoods, including cell towers, power lines, and waste disposal sites.

Melanie Bachman, acting executive director of the siting council, said that while local authorities don’t have the power to approve or deny locations, the process does allow for local input.

“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, and they must be noticed 30 days ahead in a newspaper that circulates in the area where the tower is proposed, Ms. Bachman said.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said his office would try to help interested townspeople follow the proceedings.

“If people are concerned, they should contact the state of Connecticut Siting Council,” Mr. Marconi said. “They can call my office to get information as to when meetings are held, and when potentially this application may be heard. …

“There is a public hearing where people will have an opportunity to voice their opinion.”

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  • cosmo p

    Well all it takes is time and persistence. Like the splash park the invaders won out and the tax payers lost. Ridgefield what a wonderful town to get scammed in. All you have to do is wait till the voters are fed up and BINGO the town goes further down the drain. If in fact the cell tower is 50′ from the original property the people against the first one look like fools. Only in ridgefield can something be built that is totally against the wishes of it’s residents. Just another nail in this towns coffin

  • Secondhand Rose

    Oh please stop the bellyaching. There’s a huge cell tower right behind the Shell station on Route 35 that I bet you never even see, what makes you think you’ll even notice a new one? I’ve lived here for 35+ years, have worked on Danbury Road for 5 years and pass this area twice a day and the first time I saw this tower was only last Thursday.

  • nycport

    Finally the 21st century comes to Western Ridgefield! This is a public safety issue and I am so tired of the yentas that having nothing better to then complain about things like this. It’s a cell tower that will stick up above the trees, so what? It won’t ruin your view, in two months you will forget it’s there. And how many of you so vehemently against the tower will actually see it from your house???
    A few years ago my daughter had a seizure and the paramedics could not contact the hospital on their phones to ask a dosing question due to lack of cell service. It could have been a very serious situation. Fortunately it wasn’t that serious. It’s still much more important than ANYONE’s view, mine included!

  • Kirk

    “… Rudy Marconi said his office would try to help interested townspeople follow the proceedings. ‘If people are concerned, they should contact the state of Connecticut Siting Council,’ ”

    God forbid Rudy would aggressively take the lead in presenting the town’s expressed opposition ot the tower to the Siting Council. It’s like thumbing your nose at your constituents.

  • David

    To me, this seems like a failure. The town just paid $825,000 to “protect the ridge line”. Now there is a cell tower going up on the ridge line. This is exactly what we were trying to avoid. So what was the point of spending the $825,000?

  • fedupwithrudy

    Another way it shows how incompetent Rudy is for this town. I expect this will be his last term as first selectmen. Between this and the low income house project. His time is up. This town needs someone who listens to our needs, not his wants.

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