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Darien Officials Question Need For Proposed Ox Ridge Cell Tower

Members of the Darien Board of Selectmen think that more options need to be explored before a cell tower is built at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club.
Members of the Darien Board of Selectmen think that more options need to be explored before a cell tower is built at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

DARIEN, Conn. – Darien officials are questioning whether the Ox Ridge Hunt Club is the best possible site for a new cellphone tower proposed by AT&T.

“When you’re driving around town that’s one of the great open spaces you can see,” Selectman Reilly Tierney said at Monday's board meeting. “It seems to me that there’s a strong interest in general in the town of preserving the look and feel of that vista if we can.”

The company has proposed building a 120-foot silo at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club to house a new cellphone tower.

Even though representatives from AT&T said the tower would help increase data usage in homes, many residents came out in opposition, saying it would be an eyesore to the neighborhood and potentially hurt property values.

“I personally don’t think AT&T has proven the need,” Jerry Nielsen said as he expressed doubt about placing the tower at the hunt club. “Until there’s a proven need, and before we hear other sites they could potentially put this, I would not support it.”

Selectman Susan Marks echoed those statements, saying the proposed tower was not needed and that the silo would be taller than any other in town.

“What I wouldn’t want to see is AT&T try to go to another neighborhood and try to do this, because it’s not going to benefit the town,” said Marks.

“We’re talking about a structure that is going to last for a period of time,” said Kip Hall. Technology changes so rapidly, he said, that AT&T should pursue other technologies before installing such a large permanent structure.

The town has until June 25 to suggest alternative locations for the tower, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said.

“I haven’t decided yet, but will most probably refrain from suggesting alternative locations because I, too, believe that we would be moving the problem from one neighborhood to the other,” said Stevenson.

Stevenson said she is also speaking with the town counsel about how the town’s tax agreement with the Ox Ridge Hunt Club could potentially impact the proposal for the cell tower.