On October 26, Montville Planning and Zoning Commission gave the final go-ahead to allow construction of a new Public Safety communications tower. The new tower will be located on the same site as the Public Safety Building, which is currently under construction on Route 32.
The Planning and Zoning Commission had been asked to waive a requirement that project managers present alternate sites as part of their proposal. Commission members agreed that placing the tower on the same site as the new Public Safety Building made good sense.
For some time now, Montville has needed a new communications tower. Not only is the existing tower at the current police building on Rte. 2A nearing the end of its 30-year lifespan, Montville Police Lt. Leonard Bunnell and Fire Marshal Ray Occhialini said there are also a number of “dead zones” in town.
“Currently on this whole Route 32 corridor from McDonalds to past the jail, there is no talk-back,” said Occhialini. In other words, emergency responders in that area can hear what’s being said but they can’t answer back on the radio.
“You know how helpless that makes you feel?” said Bunnell, who testified in support of the new communications tower at the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing last night. “The tower is crucial to our ability to communicate.”
No one on the Planning and Zoning Commission disputed the need for a new tower nor did they have a problem with the proposal to locate it on the same site as the new Public Safety Building. Members agreed it was the most logical choice, for all the reasons Town Attorney Ronald Ochsner pointed out at the October 25 meeting.
Locating the 145-foot high tower and the 120-square-foot tower building on the site adjacent to the new Public Safety Building would be better for security, because police would be right there to keep an eye on it. The fact that the tower would be just 155 feet away from the Public Safety Building also keeps the required length of cable fairly short.
The location poses no problems for traffic and impact studies found it will have no negative affect on property values in the area. Wetlands are not an issue at this site and nor is drainage. The only issue, raised by commission member Robert Baron, was whether the Town of Montville was giving itself preferential treatment in its request for a waiver of Planning and Zoning requirements that an alternate site be investigated and presented as an option for consideration.
Town Attorney Ronald Ochsner assured the commission that the request was above-board and that, although he was asking for a waiver regarding an alternate site, other sites had indeed been investigated during the planning process. “We felt this was the preferred site,” Ochsner said.
After some debate, the Commission concurred and voted in favor of waiving the requirement to search for other sites within a quarter-mile radius. As the telecommunications tower is not being built for commercial use but will be used exclusively by police, emergency services, civil defense, and public works, the requirement to have a licensed telecommunications systems engineer present a report showing why the tower was necessary was also waived.
With this final approval in place, Marcia Vlaun, town planner and project manager for the new Public Safety Building, anticipates that new tower construction will begin when the Public Safety Building is about three-quarters finished.
“It’s going to be a big improvement for police, fire, public works and public safety,” Occhialini said.