Town Diary - January 2001
Cell phone tower comes to Barkhamsted - January 23, 2001
A newcomer to the landscape of our fair town made its appearance on January 23, 2001. On that day, a crane hoisted into place the first three sections of a cell phone tower on a ridge just west of Route 44 near the New Hartford town line.
The tower, called a monopole, is owned by AT&T Wireless and will also be used by other communication companies. It is 124 feet high and is designed to be extended to as much as 158 feet. Monopoles such as this are designed specifically for the individual site. This one was designed by the Paul J. Ford Company, a structural engineering firm in Columbus, Ohio. It was built by Summit Manufacturing in West Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and trucked to Barkhamsted in three sections. The monopole is made of galvanized steel, is about 52 inches in diameter at the base and is designed to withstand winds of up to 80 miles an hour. It can hold antennas for up to six telecommunications companies and is expected to also hold local fire and emergency antennas. The State encourages tower sharing in order to reduce the proliferation of towers.
January 23, 2001 - a crane lifts the third stage of the cell tower off the ground.
The cell phone, or mobile telephone, is now a popular everyday tool of a society on the go. Wireless communication has dramatically increased over the last several years even if some remote areas, like Barkhamsted, were on the fringe of the tower network that insured clear, static-free communication. That tower network has been expanding and this month it finally reached Barkhamsted, although the pole erected this month will not be put into actual service for several weeks or months. Only the main tower structure is in place now, but an additional section will be added soon, as well as antennas and some fake branches to mimic a pine tree. Residents do not always welcome new cell phone towers and sometimes visual pollution concerns can be reduced with design modifications. Currently (January 2001), the "pine tree" design is not common in Connecticut.
Workers on the ground help control the third stage with lines as it is lifted.
The third stage of the main monopole is lowered into place.
The 50 foot by 50 foot piece of land on which the tower and a small support building stand is owned by the Regional Refuse Disposal District #1 and leased to AT&T Wireless. The State Siting Council approved the site for the tower. This is a State board that has jurisdiction over the location of facilities such as cell phone towers, power generation plants, electrical sub-station buildings and some hazardous waste sites. The Council attempts to balance reasonable costs to consumers for the services provided by these sites versus the need to protect the environment. The Council receives input from local town boards, and towns can regulate many of the activities that take place at these sites, but the Siting Council has the ultimate authority to approve individual sites. That authority has been upheld in a recent court decision.
In this photo, taken from Route 44 opposite the town garage, the tower can just be seen on the ridge.
When AT&T conducted is original search for a site in the Barkhamsted area, 12 potential locations were identified and investigated. The list was pared down to two sites. The primary site was west of Route 44 in Barkhamsted just below the Ripley Hill Road (Route 318) intersection; however, the RRDD1 site had the fewest homes within a 1,000-foot radius and was farther from the nearest home. In addition, a tower at the RRDD1 site would be less visible.
After a public hearing conducted by the town of Barkhamsted in November 1997 and a public hearing conducted by the Siting Council in March 1998, the application for the AT&T Wireless tower was approved for the Barkhamsted site on June 25, 1998. At the hearings there was some concern expressed by local residents regarding the tower. In response to this input, the town of Barkhamsted requested that the site be moved 400 feet south and farther away from houses on Rust Road. The Siting Council complied with this request and also required that the monopole be camouflaged as a tree to "mitigate the far-field visual impact". AT&T estimates the cost of the completed cell tower site at $432,000, about half of which is the radio transmitting and receiving equipment to be located on the site.
In one regard, the location on RRDD1 land is actually a windfall for the three towns (Barkhamsted, New Hartford and Winchester) that make up the refuse disposal district. During the first five years the income to RRDD1 from the lease will be $1,350 per month from AT&T plus $500 each month for each additional company that decides to utilize the tower. Already SNET and Nextel are signed up to use the tower, and Sprint is also expected to sign on. If this occurs, a total of $2,850 per month ($34,200 annually) will be paid to the RRDD1. After five years this lease income will increase.
This photo (taken in March 2001) shows the tower with the "pine tree branches" added. This view is from the RRDD1 recycling center.
back to the Town Diary front page