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.