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Town Seeks Cell Tower Alternatives

T-Mobile's plan to lease land for a cell tower in an open space area of Cos Cob hit another snag Thursday. During a contentious three-hour meeting at which residents voiced opposition to the plan, the Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 to hire a consultant to work with the RTM and town land-use agencies to investigate alternatives.

The vote came on a motion by First Selectman Peter Tesei to engage an independent specialist to evaluate the height requirements for a tower, alternative locations and whether several smaller towers could be an alternative to one taller structure.

The consultant will have 90 days to deliver a report. The dissenting vote was cast by Selectman Drew Marzullo, who felt the issues were clear and that not voting on the lease was just "delaying the inevitable."

T-Mobile originally wanted to install an 80-foot cell tower on Palmer Hill Road, but the site was rejected because of its proximity to North Mianus School. At Thursday's meeting, officials were had planned to consider granting Municipal Improvement status to allow a tower to be erected at 129 Bible St.

T-Mobile was represented Thursday by Jesse Langer, a lawyer from the firm of Cohen and Wolf, who said, "I understand the town's desire and need to engage a consultant. Obviously, we've been involved in this process for quite awhile, so T-Mobile's mind is, 'The sooner we're able to act, the better.' "

Many residents opposed putting up a 160-foot tower in the Pinetum (a pine arboretum) because it would conflict with stipulations set by Col. Robert Montgomery, who gave the land to the town in the mid-20th century. Resident Steve Dericco pointed out that under Montgomery's bequest, portions of the land could be sold, but not leased.

Greenwich Conservation Commissioner Denise Savegeau disagreed that there were deed restrictions with the land, though she did say that the town plan designates the property as open space.

Savegeau said that if ways are found to circumvent the open space restrictions and ban on leasing and "we're going to do a commercial lease, then we should go out to bid."

The issue will come before the board again after the 90 days set for the consultant's study. If the board should approve a cell tower project, it would still have to be endorsed by the Planning and Zoning Commission, Connecticut Siting Council and Representative Town Meeting.

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