Overflow Crowd Battles Cell Tower

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Overflow-crowd-turns-out-to-fight-cell-tower-2354263.php

TRUMBULL —- An overflow crowd of 130, many with their small children in tow, crammed into the council chambers at Town Hall Tuesday night to voice their opposition to a proposed 150-foot cell phone and communications tower that would rise at Police Headquarters on the south end of town.

They were there for a public hearing of the Connecticut Siting Council, the government entity with the final say on everything from high-voltage transmission lines to hazardous waste facilities. It’s expected that the Siting Council’s decision will be several weeks down the road.

About 15 residents, most of them living in the immediate neighborhood, told the council that the tower presented health hazards from electromagnetic waves, falling ice, and that they feared that it might one day topple over. They also said that their property values would likely drop by 10 percent or more, and they questioned the need for the tower in the first place.

The new tower would replace the existing 100-foot transmission tower at Police Headquarters, which was erected in the early 1990s.

Anita McCane, who said that she was a nurse and a college professor, said that the tower would present “health ramifications” because of electromagnetic radiation.

“The low emission of radiation from this tower will cause tumors, leukemia and all kids of neurological effects,” she said. A number of other residents echoed her concerns about electromagnetic radiation, too.

But Siting Council Chairman Robert Stein said that under federal law, the council and similar bodies like it in other states are prohibited from considering the health effects of electromagnetic radiation in their decisions in cases such as this one, because cell tower radio frequency emissions “are within accepted safe standards.”

Several politicians joined in the opposition chorus including state Reps. Tony Hwang and T.R. Rowe, both Republicans from Trumbull; state Sen. Anthony Musto, D-Trumbull; and Town Council members Chadwick Ciocci and John DelVecchio Jr.

Ciocci and other council members said that when they voted to approve the tower idea two years ago, it was presented as a “slight improvement” over the existing tower, but it was later learned that the project would be more ambitious.

“I can’t speak for the council, but I’m willing to bet that if we knew then what we know now, we would not have voted in favor of it,” he said.

Robert Coppola, president of Local 1745, representing the rank-and-file of the Police Department, also spoke out against the plan.

“There’s a sidewalk right in front of the tower that’s used as a bus stop, and there’s a mailbox there, too,” he said.

The ad hoc group, Citizens Against the Trumbull Tower, also known as CATT, was at least partly responsible for the overflow turnout, several at the meeting said.

Donna Mizak, a local real estate agent, said that homes that are near cell phone towers are tough sells. “The comment that I usually get from potential buyers is that `I think I’d rather see something else,’ ” she said.

Representatives from T-Mobile, the cell phone company that wants to build the tower, said that nearby alternative locations for it, such as the roofs of stores and the like, were rejected by their respective owners. They also said that the existing police communications tower is near the end of its design lifespan.

You can reach John Burgeson at 203-330-6403 or by email at jburgeson@ctpost.com. Follow twitter.com/johnburgeson.

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