ROXBURY -- Residents of the Transylvania Road section of Roxbury turned out en masse to oppose AT&T's planned cell tower at 126 Transylvania Road.
Representatives of AT&T and SAI Communications, the real estate company that acquires sites for cell tower installation for the communications company, were grilled by some 40 Roxbury residents Thursday as they presented the proposal in a town meeting.
"My property abuts the
property where you plan to put
the tower," said John Ambruso, "and I'm not happy with this. I
can see straight through the
woods over to Hickory Road. When the leaves are off the trees, I'll have a clear view of the site."
The 170-foot high tower is proposed to go on property that sits with Hickory Road abutting it to the west and Acorn Road abutting to the east. The site is within the most highly populated sections of Roxbury, First Selectman Barbara Henry said.
"We already have one tower in town at the transfer station," Henry said. "We don't want another one. We don't want a tower going up every two miles" to provide blanket coverage. "If this one goes up, when does it stop? And why are you plopping it down in the most populated area of the town?"
Attorney Daniel Laub, of Cuddy & Feder law firm in White Plains, represented AT&T at the town meeting. He explained that coverage was broken along Routes 67 and 172 and surrounding areas in Roxbury. With the proposed tower, coverage will be increased, he said. AT&T has to be competitive in the cellular market, he said.
Residents on Hickory and Acorn roads said they get coverage now for their Verizon cell phones. They did not see the need for another tower.
"Towers are like a flashlight. They have a beam and if something gets in the way, like a hill, it blocks that beam," said Kevin Dey of SAI Communications. "There may be good coverage on Acorn Road because you are up at the top of the ridgeway. It's in the valleys and lower levels where the problems in coverage come."
Residents were not appeased, however. Concerns were raised about the existence of a vernal pool near the proposed tower site, eastern box turtles that live in that area, and dropping property values for homes in the area where the tower is proposed.
Gary Steinman, chairman of the town's Conservation Commission, said the bio-diversity study that was done on the proposed site was "deficient" as it did not include a field study, rather it relied on a previous DEP study.
"I'm worried about property values," said resident Art Connolly, who live near the proposed site. "That's a major issue. I'm going to fight this all the way."
Laub said studies show that property values do not drop when a cell tower goes up in a neighborhood.
To the other concerns, he said he would go before the town's Wetlands Commission at its October meeting and make a presentation. He asked that other land-use boards be present.
He said that while AT&T legally has 60 days to make a proposal to the state's Siting Council from the time the study done on the site was given to the town's first selectman in September, he does not plan to make that proposal until sometime in December at the earliest.
"Given our discussion tonight, I see that it is necessary to have more discussions on this proposal," Laub said. "We will look at construction issues of having construction equipment on Transylvania Road, set a date to float a test balloon, and have our environmental team look again at the bio-diversity study."
The state Siting Council has the final say on whether a cell tower is installed in a community. A public hearing would be held in Roxbury by the Council for public input before a decision was made.
Contact Susan Tuz