Darien Residents Oppose Cell Tower Proposed For Ox Ridge

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Harry Carey of AT&T discusses the proposed cell phone tower that would be built at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club in Darien.
Harry Carey of AT&T discusses the proposed cell phone tower that would be built at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club in Darien. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

DARIEN, Conn. – Many Darien residents are upset about a new cellphone tower that AT&T is proposing to build at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club.

The proposed tower -- a 120-foot silo -- would be built near the riding area at the Hunt Club at Middlesex Road and Saddle Ridge Road.

At a public information session at Town Hall, representatives and consultants for AT&T described how the tower would be used to increase data capability in the area and fill in gaps in cellphone coverage.

“The problem in this day and age, and especially in towns like Darien, is that data traffic on the network is increasing exponentially,” said Harry Carey, director of external affairs for AT&T in Connecticut.

But several residents voiced their opposition to the proposed tower, saying it would be an eyesore in the neighborhood. The surrounding homes have an assessed value of about $43 million, and many said the tower would lower property values. Some questioned the need for the tower, saying their service was fine and any increase in coverage would not be worth it.

“I’m opposed to this cell tower,” said Jenny Schwartz of Saddle Ridge Road. The Hunt Club is important to the riding community, she said, and attracts riders from all over the country. 

“That property is a draw, it’s one of the crown jewels that distinguishes Darien from a New Canaan, a Westport,” she said. “I think you’ll deface it, I think you’ll ruin it, and I think you’ll kill the neighborhood.”

Leelee Klein lives 100 yards from the site proposed for the cell tower. She was on the brink of tears as she described how it would impact her neighborhood.

“This tower is going to cast a shadow on my neighborhood. My neighborhood is beautiful. You are taking the beauty away,” Klein said. “I will give my home to the Darien Land Trust if this happens. My neighbors and I don’t deserve this to happen.”

Chris Fisher, a consulting attorney for AT&T, said the purpose of the information session was to get public feedback.

The proposal is still in the early stages and no applications have been filed with the Connecticut Siting Council, the state body that rules on proposed cell towers.

AT&T will likely make an assessment to file an application at the end of July, and public hearings on the proposed tower would begin in the fall, Fisher said.

Detailed information on the cell tower is available on the Darien town website.

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Comments (5)

"I will give my home to the Darien Land Trust..." sounds like another positive for this project.

Article states many residents upset, but only mentions two. Were there more? How many more?

I don't envy AT&T having to deal with NIMBY. I think this tower is a great idea: despite what they say, AT&T is useless anywhere near Ox Ridge. I live near by and can't get a signal basically anywhere from the high school to just south of the Merritt. Totally dead in the hole down Ox Ridge Ln too. It's great that AT&T is being proactive about filling in holes.

Putting it at the club means it won't be right next to anyone's house (finding property for a cell tower is really difficult in residential areas like this). The neighborhood is so dense with trees, very few would be able to see it. "Casting a shadow" is a bit melodramatic (the tower would be due north of the closest houses, so they would never actually see the shadow). How many of you can see the water tower on Mansfield?

PLUS, it sounds like AT&T is planning to dress it up so it looks like a silo, instead of a cell tower (or that goofy "tree-tower" at the rest stop down near NY). So, for all the complaining, and for the 3-4 houses that would actually be able to see it, all they would see is a tall silo next to a barn.

From what I can tell, Ox Ridge could do with the money, too.

Wish I could have gone to support it.

Jenny Schwartz served as the Chair of the Darien Housing Authority when it approved a neighborhood changing re-development of the Allen O'Neill Houses, more than doubling it size and changing the character of the area. Now, she is concerned about saving her neighborhood from a cell tower. How hypocritical is that?