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New cell tower proposed at Ox Ridge Hunt Club

Published 1:52 pm, Friday, May 16, 2014
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Cellphone service will improve if the proposed construction of a new AT&T Wireless cellular tower on the Ox Ridge Hunt Club property is granted.

New Cingular Wireless, PCS LLC ­­-- AT&T -- intends to install the tower inside a 120-foot red silo near the barn at the horse club to improve the 4G capabilities, according to its proposal submitted to the town March 27.

The Connecticut Siting Council will consider the tower, which needs no local approval. State law requires the wireless company to consult with the town prior to filing an application with the siting council.

A public information session for residents is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, in the Town Hall auditorium.

Lewis Cullman, a neighbor of the Ox Ridge Hunt Club, said in a letter to the editor that he was pleased with the plans to conceal the tower within a silo, which is not "an ugly tower and is consistent with the current agriculture and equestrian use of the property.

"For 50 years, I've lived near the club in an old house that is 25 feet from the street, not 50 feet as current rules provide," Cullman wrote in his letter. "I am thrilled that my cell service is going to improve. I'm also pleased that my neighbors and I won't notice the tower enclosed within the silo."

There is "significant" coverage deficiency along Mansfield Avenue, Middlesex Road, Leroy Avenue and the surrounding residential areas, according to a letter sent to First Selectman Jayme Stevenson from Christopher Fisher, an attorney from Cuddy and Feder, representing AT&T.

Four other locations -- United Methodist Church, 357 Middlesex Road; Wee Burn Country Club, 410 Hollow Tree Ridge Road; the Country Club of Darien, 300 Mansfield Ave.; and St. Thomas More Church, 374 Middlesex Road -- were considered possible locations, but were not accepted by the project's engineers.

The proposed tower at the hunt club will be able to accommodate two additional wireless carriers.

AT&T's wireless network in Darien is currently served by sites developed during the course of the last 20 years along Interstate 95, the Boston Post Road and the Merritt Parkway, according to Fisher's letter.

"As the demand for services has increased over that time period and technology advanced, so too has the need for additional infrastructure to provide reliable service in homes, vehicles and around the community," Fisher said in the letter. "In this regard, Darien's own experiences during three major storms in the past two years, with days of power outages and the lack of any communications services have likely highlighted the public health and safety benefits associated with reliable wireless services."

The site at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club meets AT&T's technical criteria and is a location where AT&T could "creatively design" a tower to look like a silo that belongs on the property, according to the letter from Fisher.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews