Cell service can be spotty in Redding Ridge. To improve this, Homeland Towers in April proposed erecting a cell phone tower on the grounds of the , located along Hopewell Woods Road.
At a Board of Selectmen meeting last week, however, neighboring residents voiced concern over the proposed tower.
Beck Road resident Carey Reilly told the selectmen that the tower as proposed would be in clear view from her property, according to the meeting minutes. She wondered whether the tower was indeed a necessity, and if other pieces of property around town had been viewed as possible alternatives to the transfer station property. Reilly, along with fellow Beck Road resident Emily Jessep, both wondered if a map could be made to show spots of no coverage in the area, as coverage was available, they said, in some spots.
Ben Weiss, who lives on Hopewell Woods Road, said to the selectmen that network extenders can be acquired by residents. These devices can be put in one's house, allowing for cell phone reception. He questioned whether the tower was a necessity as well.
Laura Hoeing, who also lives on Hopewell Woods Road, said the area's sparsely populated. She too wondered if a new cell tower was something that the town needed, or simply something that would be nice to have for some people, adding she was concerned about how such a tower would affect property values.
Residents wondered why a higher cell phone tower plan, which has already been approved by the Connecticut Siting Council—the governing body which oversees cell towers—has not moved forward at the Redding Ridge Fire Station. Though there's a tower there, the plan calls for a higher tower, which would potentially alleviate these gaps in coverage.
Residents also wondered why the town was considering the proposal in the first place.
First Selectman Natalie Ketcham said the town is considering the company's proposal because Redding would be able to lease the land to it, generating revenue. Should the town deny the company's proposal, Homeland Towers could then approach private property owners with similar plans, she said, adding the owners of that property would be in line to pick up rental income.
In an email to Patch, Ketcham said that the company is required to first seek public land on which to build a tower before looking for private land, should no public land be available. Should the Board of Selectmen decide to lease the land to the company on behalf of the public, Homeland Towers would pay rent to the town and pay for construction costs as well.
Ketcham said that Homeland Towers will be asked to produce a coverage study, showing which spots in Redding are without cell phone service. That material will be discussed at the Board of Selectmen's next scheduled meeting on July 16.