Greenwich Delegation Backs Cell Tower Bill [Greenwich Time]

March 8, 2012

Article as it appeared in the Greenwich Time on March 8, 2012.

By Frank MacEachern

Citing the uncertain health impacts of cell towers, Greenwich’s four-member state delegation is supporting a bill that would keep the structures from being placed near places with large concentrations of children.

State Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-36th District, and state Rep. Alfred Camillo, R-151st District, testified last week before the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee on Bill 5271, a section of which would prohibit the placement of cell towers within 250 feet of schools and day care centers.

Frantz said he supports the bill because “of the unknowns about the health issues with radiation coming from these towers and a population that may be vulnerable to that.”

Currently, the Connecticut Siting Council is responsible for providing siting review regarding proposals to develop large-scale utility infrastructure and telecommunications facilities, including cellular towers.

Camillo said the bill has strong backing of other legislators from across the state.

“We are working together with legislators from like places like Branford and other towns along the coast that have applications pending,” he said.

Greenwich’s two other state representatives, Lile Gibbons, R-150th District, and Livvy Floren, R-149th District, submitted written testimony to the committee in favor of the bill, Camillo said.

The bill is similar to one that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed last year, Camillo said. That bill encouraged the siting council to keep construction of towers at least 250 feet from schools and day care centers.

The vetoed bill would have also given cities and towns — which would still have no approval authority — 90 days notice rather than 60, as well as more detailed information about the need for a tower.

Malloy in his veto letter said he generally supported the bill and attributed his concerns to a possible drafting error. He wrote that the legislation required the Siting Council to conclude that a tower “is necessary for the reliability of the electric power supply of the state or for the development of a competitive market for electricity before it could be approved.”

“This makes the siting of such towers in the state essentially impossible because television and cell phone towers do not impact the reliability of electricity or the competitive markets for electricity,” Malloy wrote.

Camillo said the current bill is similar to one the Greenwich delegation proposed two years ago that would have prevented cell towers from being constructed within 750 feet of a school or day care center.

That bill failed to gain Senate approval, Camillo said.