City turns down cell antenna proposal for firehouse

The city has dropped the idea of possibly putting a roof-mounted cell phone antenna at the Pine Rock Park firehouse on Long Hill Avenue.

“It’s dead,” Michael A. Maglione, city director of public safety and emergency management services, said of the proposal.

Verizon Wireless had approached the city about using the firehouse for the antenna, which the company needs to fill a small coverage gap.

The antenna would have been 27 feet in height, placed either on the rooftop or on a pole in the ground.

But objections were raised by firefighters, some elected officials, and residents of the Crescent Village condo complex on River Road that is near the firehouse.

Health concerns raised

Justin Sabatino, a Pine Rock Park Fire Company member and city Fire Commission member, said he strongly opposed the idea.

Sabatino said cell phone antennas transmit “small amounts of radiation” and are not deemed safe for school buildings, so they shouldn’t be placed on firehouses either.

He said proponents might argue firefighters aren’t in the firehouse all day, “but we are there a lot.”

Sabatino also was concerned the antenna would require that certain equipment be placed on the ground, and this would occupy space needed for training purposes and perhaps even for maneuvering apparatus.

“It’s just not practical to put it there,” he said.

Coverage for other towns?

Board of Aldermen President John Anglace, who lives on Long Hill Avenue, said he objected to the idea based on the concerns raised by Pine Rock Park firefighters.

Anglace said the antenna might interfere with fire apparatus, such as the aerial ladder, and he was told the cell coverage gap is primarily in Milford and Orange, across the Housatonic River.

“It wasn’t going to benefit Shelton, and firefighters didn’t think it was a good idea, so why create an issue?” Anglace said.

‘Negative reaction’

Maglione said the city is responding to the objections and won’t pursue the idea. “There was a negative reaction for health reasons, and so I killed it,” he said. “Verizon has been notified of that decision.”

Maglione said the antenna would have been placed about eight feet above the firehouse roof, which is approximately 19 feet in height.

In an earlier letter to Verizon, Maglione had indicated the city might want to pursue the proposal. But he also raised a number of questions about the proposal in his letter, including whether a cell antenna might interfere with the fire company’s radio system.

According to the Verizon proposal, the “cabinet” on the ground would have been slightly less than 2 feet by 2 feet at the base.

The company would have paid the city $400 a month for the first five years, with 12% rent increases every five years after that. The proposed initial term was 25 years, including four five-year extensions.