Sen. McLachlan Supports Legislation Making Changes to the Siting Council

March 18, 2010

Hartford, CT- State Senator Mike McLachlan (R-Danbury) today testified before the Energy and Technology Committee in support of SB 5504, An Act Concerning Siting of Cell Phone Towers Near Schools, and SB 461, An Act Concerning Siting Council Proceedings and Decisions. If passed, HB 5504 will prevent cell phone towers from being installed near schools, and SB 461 will require the state Siting Council to consider the latest technological designs to minimize aesthetic and environmental impacts when issuing a certificate for a telecommunications facility.

“Both these bills will play an important role in making the Siting Council more attuned to the needs of our constituents,” said Sen. McLachlan. “However, we need to do more. Last year I proposed a bill that would have given more authority to local zoning boards to participate in the placement of cell phone towers. While that bill did not pass, this year, I proudly co-sponsored SB 206, An Act Concerning Local Land Use Agencies and the Siting of Telecommunications Towers. Local leaders have greater knowledge of their towns and are in the best position to make decisions that affect their constituency. I am committed to working towards the successful passage of the two bills before the committee today as well as this legislation giving municipalities greater control.”

Senator McLachlan shared with committee members local experiences with recent cell tower proposals in Danbury and Sherman. The City of Danbury spent nearly $75,000 in legal costs to fight a cell tower at 52 Stadley Rough Road but the project was ultimately approved by the Siting Council. Another unpopular proposal is in Sherman where an absentee property owner is offering his land for a 175 foot tower – again in a neighbor’s backyard.

In his written testimony, Sen. McLachlan encouraged Energy and Technology Committee members to look favorably on HB 5504 and SB 461 as well as SB 206 which was favorably referred to Energy and Technology by the Environment Committee:

“I hope this committee will look favorably upon [SB 206…] here because I believe it is the best way to ensure that local leaders have a vote on these controversial issues.” In regard to HB 5504 and SB 461 Sen. McLachlan encouraged the committee to “act favorably on these bills and give some relief to citizens who feel that they are powerless against Siting Council decisions.”

All three bills are pending further legislative actions before advancing to a vote before the entire General Assembly.