A private property on Bible Street in Cos Cob has emerged as a possible alternative location to the Montgomery Pinetum nature preserve for a controversial cell tower.
"That's something that they will need to explore with T-Mobile," Tesei said. "I'm not in the business to know whether it will work or not."
The evolving situation is, however, prompting the Board of Selectmen to delay action on the current cell tower proposal, which it had been scheduled to take up at 10 a.m. Thursday at Town Hall.
"We will not be taking (it) up on Thursday pending further review and investigation of an alternative site not owned by the town," Tesei said. "However that does not mean that the Pinetum property is not still on the table."
Jim Boutelle, chairman of the District 8/Cos Cob delegation of the Representative Town Meeting, commended Tesei for keeping his options open.
"I'm glad the first selectman is continuing to explore alternatives," Boutelle said.
Town officials worked with T-Mobile to identify a small plot of land in the nature preserve after the wireless carrier's initial proposal to erect an 80-foot tower in the form of a flagpole on Palmer Hill Road next to North Mianus School ran into overwhelming opposition last spring and summer from parents and other residents, as well as the Planning and Zoning Commission.
But open space advocates and homeowners have argued that the construction of a cell tower on the property betrays the sanctity of the land, which was given to the town as a gift by Col. Robert Montgomery in 1953.
The 91-acre preserve and park, which is rich in hemlocks and in a watershed, was never intended for a commercial project, they said.
If the current site runs into resistance, however, the fear in North Mianus is that T-Mobile could resume its original proposal, which would go to the Connecticut Siting Council for ultimate approval.
"To me anything is better than next to a school," said Jim O'Brien, a former RTM member from District 8 who works in real estate. "(But) of course you don't want to use open space for commercial use. Now if they can come up with another solution, that's fabulous."
Terms of the lease call for T-Mobile to erect a 157-foot cell tower on 5,625 square feet of town property at 129 Bible St., which it would lease for 10 years with the option to renew for an additional 20 years in two segments.
The wireless carrier would require an additional 450 square feet for electrical equipment on the site, which is currently used as a leaf-composting area.
The town would receive $2,500 in monthly rent that would increase annually by 3 percent, as well as 20 percent of any income generated by the subleasing of space on the tower to other carriers by T-Mobile.
"No one wants them in their backyard," O'Brien said of the towers. "No one wants them anywhere. But everyone wants to use their cell phone."
Staff writer Neil Vigdor can be reached at email@example.com or 203-625-4436.