Construction of an AT&T cell phone tower on property has been completed so service will soon be available by the Lovely Street corridor and .
“It was permitted by the Connecticut Siting Council and took place over the course about a year’s worth of public hearings,” Planner Steven Kushner said.
The church is leasing the land the tower is on to AT&T, Kushner said. The tower is designed to look like a flagpole and is painted brown in attempt to have it blend in somewhat with the neighboring forest, he said. The tower’s steel tube is 36 inches in diameter and 110 feet tall.
“All the antennas are mounted internal to the pole,” Kushner said. “You can’t see any of the antennas. There’s hundreds and hundreds of feet of cabling inside the pole also.”
AT&T initially looked at putting the antennas in St. Matthew’s steeple, Kushner said, but the cell phone company ultimately decided on a location behind the church, close to Greenwood Drive. There were a number of neighbors on that road and Cold Springs Road who were concerned Kushner said. The siting council’s public hearing was in August 2010.
“They were concerned about the aesthetics. They were concerned about the environmental impact,” Kushner said. “There were concerns expressed about possible electromagnetic fields.”
Cold Springs Road resident Magna Stayton wrote an e-mail to The Avon News in 2010 noting similar concerns such as whether the tower would pose any health risks and decrease property values.
No Planning and Zoning Commission approval was necessary because “freestanding” cell phone towers housing antennas are exempt by state law and instead regulated by the siting council, he said. However, if a cell phone company wanted to put antennas on “existing structures,” such as the ones on top of Avon Marketplace and some Avon Water Company water tanks, that would require commission approval, according to Kushner.
The other major cell phone carrier in town is Sprint, which has a cell phone at the Avon Landfill on Huckleberry Hill Road, Kushner said.
The church and AT&T are in the process of securing an easement to grant to Connecticut Light & Power, he said.
Kushner said that the tower is supposedly energized, but council members noted that their cell phones are not working near the site yet. AT&T cell phone service was at one bar by the church Friday.
Neither Kushner nor the church have word yet on when there will be full AT&T service in the area. A call placed to the Connecticut Siting Council Friday morning was not returned by the time of publication.
“I don’t know what the hang up is,” he said.