Wilton selectmen approve deal with Verizon for new monopole

Photo of J.D. Freda
A monopole cell tower, much like the one pictured here in North Wilton, was passed by selectmen to be erected near Route 7. It will have to be approved by the CT Siting Council next.

A monopole cell tower, much like the one pictured here in North Wilton, was passed by selectmen to be erected near Route 7. It will have to be approved by the CT Siting Council next.

Alexander Soule / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — The Board of Selectman unanimously approved a deal with Verizon on Monday that would have the company be the sole carrier featured on a proposed 123-foot monopole near the school bus depot in town. However, more carriers could be included in the future.

“We aren’t sure that other carriers will come on,” First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said, but pointed out that there are towers in town that currently are owned by one carrier and co-locate as many as three of the major cell carriers on them.

Verizon will lease the land and ostensibly own the monopole as long as the contract is continuously renewed. According to attorney Doug LoMonte, Verizon cannot deny other carriers to co-locate with them.

While the selectmen passed the motion for the monopole a number of weeks ago, the project will go before the CT Siting Council, who will make the final decision. The council encourages co-location between large cell carriers on single cell towers.

New emergency communications system equipment “will likely go on the monopole too,” Vanderslice said.

Police Capt. Thomas Conlan and Fire Chief Jim Blanchfield said the monopole being built near Route 7/Danbury Road would be beneficial to his department and all first responders in Wilton, as the area currently has spotty coverage when entering deep into buildings. The area is also one earmarked for future high-density development by the town’s zoning commission and its Plan of Conservation and Development, making it a prime target to house equipment for both better cell service and emergency communications capabilities.

The proposed location is also tucked away near most of the town’s schools.

LoMonte, who handles all of the town’s contracts, said Monday that the town will be paid $30,000 annually by Verizon for the land lease, payed in advance. Rent will also “increase annually during the intial term and each renewal term effective on each anniversary date” of the agreement to the tune of 2.75 percent.

The initial agreement period will last five years with extension opportunities thereafter.

Last month, Town Planner Michael Wrinn told the selectmen that Verizon meets “all the specs” that the town was looking for in terms of location and size.

The construction of the new monopole would not force buses to be moved, LoMonte said. The site that the tower will be built on will be fenced in.

At its end-of-life in “at least 40 years,” LoMonte said, responsibility for the demolition of the tower will fall on the owner. At that point, if Verizon is still under lease, it would be the cell carrier’s responsibility. If at that point the town is the owner, contractors would have to be hired to take it down piece by piece to dispose of it.

LoMonte said the contract must be reviewed again but likely “will not have any material changes” before it is sent back to Verizon.