EASTON, Conn. – An 80-year-old Easton man recently fell down his stairs and, though he had a cell phone with him, he couldn’t get a signal and help was delayed, First Selectman Thomas Herrmann said.
“This is the main reason why cell coverage in Easton must be improved,” he said.
Town officials are currently waiting for a state report indicating possible Easton locations for cell towers.
The town has been hesitant to permit additional towers. Recently, the Planning & Zoning Commission declined to support a lease proposal from Homeland Towers for a Morehouse Road site referred by the selectmen.
John Hayes, land-use director for the Planning & Zoning Commission, said there were two problems with the Morehouse Road site. “There is a safety issue completing the cell tower, and the tower would be located in open space and parkland that doesn’t fit in with the town plan that was adopted by the Board of Selectmen in 2007,” he said.
The proposed tower was approximately 1,800 feet south of the Samuel Staples Elementary School, which some viewed as a problem. But Herrmann disagreed. “It’s four-tenths of a mile from the school, which isn’t close by other community standards," he said. "In Weston, the cell tower is right next to the elementary school.”
After rejecting the Morehouse Road site on Oct. 22, the Planning & Zoning Commission said it would conduct a study to determine the best locations for cell towers.
Hayes has reached out to the Connecticut Siting Council, which offered to prepare a Telecommunication Coverage Assessment map that will show where cell towers could be located for optimal coverage with minimum impact on the town's environment.
“We’re looking for the extent of coverage and have an eye on proposals that have been made or might be made,” Hayes said. “We’ll also talk to cell tower builders about where it’s most needed and most appropriate without injury to the town environment. When you put a 150-foot tower on top of a hill, it has a negative impact on the neighborhood, and we’re trying to avoid that.”
The commission said on Oct. 22 that it would deliver a report to the selectmen within 60 to 90 days.