In a public hearing at East Haven Senior Center Tuesday afternoon, representatives from North Atlantic Towers and AT&T faced questions from the Connecticut Siting Council and members of the public regarding the two final location choices for a proposed Short Beach Road cell tower.
Among other environmental and economic issues, the hearing addressed visibility concerns for the tower, which representatives hope will be located at either 171 Short Beach Road in Branford or 82 Short Beach Road in East Haven.
"We generally try to make sure the impact of a tower is as low as possible," council member Philip T. Ashton told Patch. "And in some cases, we will reject an applicant." During the council's cross-examination, Ashton questioned engineer Robert Stevens about how far away the towers could be seen or heard.
Representatives attempted to address council and citizen questions about visibility by flying balloons throughout the day on Tuesday to simulate the height of each tower - 103 feet in East Haven and 120 feet in Branford.
Council members toured both sites to see if the towers were visible from a variety of distances. But concerns remained. Addressing the council, Branford RTM member Doug Hanlon said both locations were inferior: "bad and worse."
Hanlon said he went to Branford Point and saw a large number of beachgoers pointing out the clearly visible balloon.
"It would not only destroyed the landscape for the neighbors," he said. "You're talking about influencing the 30,000 people who use the waterways and the town beach. That tower will be visible to all of them."
Hanlon -- and other commenters -- said a "perfectly legitimate" site at Branford Hills was explored and dropped.
"It's time to stop helping the providers make more money and say alternatives that work better for the people," he said.
The proposed East Haven tower would be on the property of the Riverside Volunteer Fire Company. A group of East Haven residents whose properties border the fire station complained an East Haven tower would create an "eyesore" and lower property values.
"I look out my window and see a balloon flying right now through all the leaves," said East Haven's Daniel Cruisulo.
"When the fall comes, and that's eight months out of the year, I'm going to see an ugly tower."
Branford residents also raised questions about the proposed location, on the property of Air, Inc. Owner Wayne Krasnow defended his decision to lease the property, saying his parking lot is often used as a spot for drivers to make cell phone calls.
Branford First Selectman "Unk" Da Ros told Patch he advocated the East Haven location as a way of preserving the scenery of the Short Beach area in Branford. Da Ros said cell towers were "all over the place" before Branford's wireless communication committee was organized. But in his address to the council, he said his intention isn't just to move the problem from one town to another.
"We don't want this to be an East Haven and Branford fight," he said.
The Siting Council will hold its next public hearing August 15 at council offices in New Britain. The deadline for its decision is October 9.