Town’s communication system source of dispute
Sept. 08, 2002
WETHERSFIELD, Conn. — The new police station is due to be completed soon, even before the $3 million radio system is done.
The town-wide emergency communications system is ready to be completed sometime in November and at a recent town council meeting a very heated discussion took place regarding it.
The system is going to be transmitted through three telephone towers, one in Newington, one at the police station site, and the third at Fire Company 3.
Fire Company 3 is located at Kelleher Court in a highly populated area, and that is where the problem lies for many residents. Adjoining neighbors of the property appeared in front of the town council Tuesday night opposing such a tower near their property.
They came to the council arguing safety issues as well as the possibility of property values going down. John L. Stabiler handed a petition with at least 100 signatures to the council.
“We, the undersigned residents of Wethersfield, choose to address the Wethersfield Town Council to voice our opposition to the placement of an 180 foot tower antenna on Kelleher Court, and do hereby petition the town council to locate this antenna at an appropriate alternative site,” the petition read.
The safety issue residents are concerned about is radiation and its possible connection with cancer. The radiation from cell phones and cell phone towers is what worries these residents.
Not only will the emergency agencies be using this tower, the phone company AT&T has also signed an agreement to use the tower. Residents fear they will be exposed to radiation 24 hours a day, because of such an agreement.
According to Stabiler, the tower will be placed only 100 feet from his house, and, in fact, resident Amy Pinnock said it would only be 35 feet from the pool in her back yard.
“It is the council’s duty to uphold our quality of life,” resident Alexandra Pappas said. She went in front of the council with a number of reports from agencies like the American Cancer Association explaining why she says the plan is a bad idea, and if the council pursues it, it could lead to litigation against the town.
“How would anyone like looking at this tower 24 hours a day,” one resident said.
The other issue concerning the tower is real estate value. In fact, the town charter protects properties in this case.
“This article regulates the location of radio towers, wind-powered generators, satellite earth station antennas, solar energy collection panels and similar structures to minimize nuisances to owners of adjoining properties, ensure the public from unsightly and obtrusive structures and conditions which potentially impair the enjoyment of property, the conservation of property values and the quality of life,” it said in Part 2, Chapter 167, Article xxvii of the charter.
Pappas told the council she visited a number of town assessors to see if a 180-foot tower would cause the devaluation, and most of them said “yes.”
“I would not be interested in buying a house with a 180-foot tower in its backyard,” Wethersfield Taxpayer Association President Rocco Orsini said.
The thing that upsets neighbors the most was the fact they were never told about such a tower being built. Because the main use of the tower is for emergencies, it was exempt from public hearings, and things of that nature.
“I hear it is a done deal, well I will be damned if you destroy what we have worked for our entire lives,” Pappas said.
Police Chief John Karangekis attended the meeting, and said the tower was supposed to go up near the Cedar Hill Cemetery, but because of the transfer of ownership, that was out of the question.
He told the crowd the only other location is the proposed one. Karangekis also said the tower is safe. The signals will be traveling 180 feet in the air, he said, adding that using a cell phone would be 10 to15 times more dangerous.
When Pappas asked who his sources were, he could not recall them.
After the meeting, Deputy Mayor Daniel O’Connor said he would like to see if there are alternative sites. He believes the three towers will connect in a triangle.
“Well, triangles can be moved around,” he said.
© The Herald Press 2002. All rights reserved. Republished with permission.