Company wants to install ‘data poles’ in Prospect

PROSPECT — Prospect is one of many towns across the state where officials are displeased with a California-based public utility company’s plans to build cell phone towers.

Earlier this summer, Mayor Robert Chatfield received a letter from Mobilitie, LLC, stating the company’s intention to install two 120-foot monopoles, known as data poles, in the town’s right of way.

“To meet the growing demand for connectivity, Mobilitie is deploying a hybrid transport network that provides high-speed, high-capacity bandwidth in order to facilitate the next generation of devices and data-driven services. … These transport utility poles and facilities are not dedicated to any particular customer, and, to the extent capacity on the structures is available, it is available to be used by other entities, including the [Town] of Prospect,” the letter read.

The two proposed sites for the poles in town are on Chandler Drive, near the intersection of Waterbury Road, and on Waterbury Road near the Waterbury town line.

Chatfield is not pleased with the proposal or how it was handled. He pointed out that the letter from Mobilitie simply states they are going to install these poles and asks the town to appoint a contact person for the company.

“They just kind of came in and did it without going through any state agencies or anything. That kind of annoys me,” Chatfield said.

Chatfield also has some safety concerns about the potential for the poles, if they are installed, to cause damage if they fall over.

“The biggest thing is where is it going to go when it falls? Probably on CVS, across Route 69, or onto Ion Bank,” Chatfield said.

In response to an email seeking further information and comment about the proposal, Mobilitie provided a simple statement.

“We work to bring greater wireless connectivity to cities and rural areas in order to deliver a better mobile and internet experience, help communities bridge the digital divide and enable technology-driven economic growth opportunities. … Both Mobilitie and city leaders have the same vision, which is to deliver citizens the benefits of faster and more cost-effective wireless connectivity,” the statement read.

Chatfield is not the only municipal leader to voice concerns over the proposed poles. Mobilitie sent the same letter out to over 100 towns, according to the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

Although municipal officials are upset, the final decision may not be up to them.

In August, the Connecticut Siting Council ruled on the New York-based telecommunications company Verizon Communications’ proposal to build a “small cell wireless telecommunications facility” in Greenwich. The facility was proposed to be placed on top of existing light poles.

In the case, officials ruled that any structure placed on an existing pole would fall under the jurisdiction of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. Proposed new structures would fall under the jurisdiction of the Connecticut Siting Council. The municipality would only have jurisdiction if the structure was proposed for private property.

Representatives from Mobilitie are scheduled to meet with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, the Connecticut Siting Council, and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen on Wednesday to begin discussing the issue.

According to Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Director of Special Enforcement Michael Coyle, the meeting is to be a conversation between the parties rather than a traditional hearing. He expected the meeting to address concerns municipalities have raised. However, he said, it is was unclear if any decisions will be made.

Although it may be out of his hands, Chatfield already knows where he comes down on the issue.

“I cannot, will not support this thing being down in the middle of town,” Chatfield said.