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Scenic values key

FALLS VILLAGE — The Connecticut Siting Council has rejected AT&T’s application to build a 150-foot cell phone tower at 8 Barnes Road.The conclusion of the Aug. 25 decision reads, in part: “The council finds that the proposed facility would be located in an area of the state that is relatively undisturbed and possesses scenic quality of local, statewide and regional significance” and “the construction and operation of the proposed tower would substantially and adversely affect the scenic quality of its location on Cobble Hill, and no public safety concerns require that the proposed facility be constructed in such a location.”Ellery Sinclair, chairman of the Inland Wetlands Commission (an intervenor in the proposal, along with the Planning and Zoning Commission and Patty and Guy Rovezzi of Barnes Road), expressed delight at the news.In July, members of the IWC put the final touches on a small mountain of paperwork regarding the AT&T application and submitted it to the Siting Council.“Without the volunteers putting in hours and hours I don’t think we could have accomplished this result,” Sinclair said. He also cited the pro bono legal work of Gabriel Seymour. “I doubt if we would have appeared as official without her work.”Sinclair called the decision “gratifying.” “It shows what a small number of people can do if they really believe in something.”The council’s decision, while acknowledging that AT&T’s proposal met the company’s coverage needs, and that nearby natural resources (such as Robbins Swamp and the Hollenbeck River) could be protected “by suitable design,” also noted a long list of “unique scenic,natural and cultural features” at the site and surrounding area, including:• The town’s inclusion in the federal Highlands Region, an area established by Congress in the Highlands Protection Act to assist the four member states in conserving land and natural resources• The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection identification of Robbins Swamp and Canaan Mountain as having “unique habitats supporting a number of state-listed endangered, threatened or special concern species.”• The town’s Plan of Conservation and Development, which specifically mentions Cobble Hill as a place that “contributes to the character of the community” and recommends that anything that detracts from the scenic value of the site should be avoided.

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