Energy and Technology Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5271

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE SITING COUNCIL.

Vote Date:

3/9/2012

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/1/2012

File No.:

55

SPONSORS OF BILL:

The Energy and Technology Committee

Rep. John Shaban, 135th Dist.

Rep. Lonnie Reed, 102nd Dist.

Rep. Patricia M. Widlitz, 98th Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill would 1) require the applicant to work more closely with the host municipality through its pre-application consultation process. 2) Extend the municipality consultation process from 60 to 90 days to encourage greater municipal involvement in the tower siting process. The bill 3) requires an applicant to utilize the latest technological designs intended to minimize aesthetic and environmental impacts. 4) It allows the Connecticut Siting Council to request that a civil action be brought against any party that has intentionally omitted or misrepresented a material fact during a proceeding. 5) The bill prohibits the Connecticut Siting Council from permitting the siting of a wireless telecommunications tower within 250 feet of a school or commercial day care center unless the location is acceptable to the town's chief elected official or the Council finds that the facility will not have a substantial adverse effect on the aesthetics of the area where the schools or commercial day care facilities are located. 6) Require payments be made to municipalities from the Municipal Participation Account first to defray costs incurred by such a municipality who participates as a party to a certification proceeding, and eliminates any requirement that the municipality refund any excess funds it may have received from the account.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Denise L. Nappier, Treasurer:

Ms. Nappier submitted testimony in support of Section 3, the change requiring that reimbursement applications be submitted by a municipality “not later than sixty days after the conclusion of a certification proceeding” would allow the Treasurer's office to review those expenses that have been actually incurred. Testimony states that “This language makes sense when reimbursement payments are made at the beginning of the proceeding and substantiated later”.

Representative Fred Camillo:

Rep. Camillo submitted testimony in support of not allowing cell towers to be sited within 250 feet of schools for reasons of unclear evidence of health risks caused by radiation emitted from these structures. He considers the act “reasonable and responsible compromise at this time with all competing views that we have on cell towers and on the radiation that is emitted”. He urges the bill be favorably reported out of committee.

Representatives Lile Gibbons and Livvy R. Floren:

Reps. Gibbons and Floren submitted testimony urging the committee to discuss possible negative health effects with the Connecticut Siting Council and, if needed, tell the Council to not allow a cell tower to be sited next to a day care center or school. Due to the controversy of the siting of towers “we believe the legislature should act and instruct the cell companies to research and use the latest, least conspicuous and most advanced technology”.

Representative John Shaban:

Rep. Shaban submitted testimony in support of increasing the role of local governments in the siting of cell towers.

Senator L. Scott Frantz:

Sen. Frantz submitted testimony supporting the section prohibiting the placement of cell towers within 250 feet of schools and day care centers. “While there has yet to be any conclusive studies done on the long-term effects of cell towers and radiation, a 2005 factsheet provided by the National Center Institute state that, among recent findings, there is a direct relationship between radiation and cancer. I believe that it is best to err on the side of being cautious when it comes to the long term health of our children”.

Linda Roberts, Connecticut Siting Council:

Connecticut Siting Council understands that the bill “serves to clarify legislative intent and codify existing practice” and has no objections. The Council supports changes to the Municipal Participation Account.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Connecticut Council of Small Towns:

COST supports the bills balance of providing municipal officers with greater input in the siting of telecommunication towers. “By requiring applicants to make a good faith effort to meet with town leaders to fully discuss the application, including ways of mitigating the impact to the town, this bill ensures that towns will have a stronger voice in working with the Siting Council and telecommunications companies to come to mutually agreeable solutions”.

Donna Hamzy, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities:

Ms. Hamzy submitted testimony is support of the bill as it is.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Connecticut Fund for the Environment:

Mr. Rothenberger urged the committee to strike subsection (j) of section 1 before any further action is taken on the bill. Believes that “this provision could have the unintended consequence of chilling public participation in Siting Council proceedings due to the inherent difficulty of determining intent regarding what may constitute an intentional misrepresentation of omission of a material fact”. This language could allow potential abuses where applicants use legal action against certain parties to deter participation.

Cellco Partnership, d/b/a Verizon Wireless:

The Cellco partnership is “mindful of the perspectives and concerns of the general public that have given rise to the Council process reforms” but cautions the bills “potential conflict with federal law” as it pertains to siting telecommunication facilities near schools and commercial daycare facilities. Cellco also acknowledges the potential qualifying language conflict as it pertains to decisions made by the Siting Council and chief elected official of the municipality about adverse aesthetics or scenic quality of the neighborhood where a school or commercial day care center is located.

PCIA NEWA:

Mr. Fisher testified in opposition of the language that “would prohibit the Connecticut Siting Council from permitting the siting of a wireless communication tower within 250 feet of a school or commercial day care center unless the location is acceptable to the chief elected official or the Council finds that the facility will not have a substantial adverse effect on the aesthetics of the area where the schools or commercial day care facilities are located”. He believes this would take potential revenue away from owners of schools or commercial day care centers if they wished to place wireless facilities on their property.

Reported by: Shane Henry, Assistant Clerk

Date: 3-23-2012