Call For “Party Status” Delays Siting Council Approval

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A Kent County, Connecticut cell tower application filed by Homeland Towers and AT&T is facing delays over the Board of Selectmen’s request for “party status.”

Party status is the process by which any person(s) who wishes to participate in the hearing as an “interested person” must be identified and given an opportunity to demonstrate that they satisfy the criteria, including a vested interest in the outcome. According to the Connecticut Siting Council’s (CSC) website, if granted party status, the town would be required to respond to pre-hearing questions, submit to cross-examination and provide filings to the council, the applicant and any party or intervenor of the proceeding.

Stirring town controversy is the 150- to 175-foot cell tower proposed by Homeland Towers and AT&T. The application is currently pending a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need. However, the Town of Kent filed an Application to Intervene through its attorney, Cramer & Anderson, on April 17. According to the Republican American, although the Board of Selectmen intended to attain party status in the initial tower application, paperwork has not been received by the CSC, prompting the request through Cramer and Anderson.

First Selectman Jean Speck indicated the town is working through its attorneys in conjunction with two resident groups, Planned Development Alliance of Northwest Connecticut and Bald Hill Neighbors. Both groups received letters from the CSC on April 24, confirming their status as “additional Party” and CEPA Intervenor was approved during a public meeting held on April 23. Letters included the CSC’s Information Guide to Party and Intervenor which outlines the necessary procedures.

Expressing concern over costs associated with attorneys involved in the Party Status process, Selectman Edward Matson said, “Is the town going to decide to make some sort of a proclamation saying that any tower from now on that gets proposed, the town will authorize to hire a group of attorneys to fight it?” Matson asked. “Or do we just represent one group of people for one tower?”

In response, Selectman Christopher Garrity said Matson was misinterpreting a process that is part of a broader plan. “This is how the town of Kent reacts to an infrastructure that we clearly know is growing, and how do we look at it from the perspective of the whole town of Kent so we don’t possibly have towers popping up all over? That is the goal – not to pick on one area and support one group,” Garrity said.

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