New Canaan’s wireless subcommittee dissolved for becoming to political
Published 6:10 pm, Tuesday, August 29, 2017
NEW CANAAN — The Planning and Zoning Commission’s Wireless Communications Subcommittee, tasked with developing a set of utilities regulations to better serve the town than those on the books, has been dissolved after overstepping its bounds.
“Since the issue of wireless regulation was presented to us last Fall, we have made very good progress on this complicated and contentious issue,” Planning and Zoning Chairman John Goodwin wrote in an Aug. 17 email to all members of the commission, Town Planner Steve Palmer and First Selectman Robert Mallozzi III.
“Unfortunately, the process has become more politicized than would have been ideal, “ Goodwin continued.
Asked if he agreed with Goodwin’s assertion that the process had become too politicized, Mallozzi said, “I agree with everything that John said in his letter unequivocally.”
The subcommittee was formed in April after significant debate about the town’s future began within the Board of Selectmen-appointed Utilities Commission after a proposal to erect two cellular towers — one at Irwin Park and one near West School — was met by many in town with dismay. The subcommittee first met in May and included Elizabeth Deluca, Jack Flynn, Dan Radman, Bill Redman and Ken Turner. The group met three times. In his email, Goodwin specifically acknowledged Radman, who was elected chairman of the subcommittee.
“I want to thank Dan in particular for his stewardship and I know that he will continue to help drive the process forward,” Goodwin wrote.
Goodwin also stated that after reviewing the Planning and Zoning regulations and ordinances of other towns regarding utilities, “I see less of technology recommendations and mostly specifications and requirements for applications as well as the addressing of such critical planning issues as screening, dimension limits and footprints. That seems right to me.”
He also noted that the publicly stated intent of the subcommittee was never to develop a wireless strategy for the town, but that after attending subcommittee meetings, consulting with Palmer and Mallozzi, and going over background material on wireless communications, he opined “we have tended to wander into that realm in some of our discussions.”
“Personally, I feel that Town Council and the Board of Selectman as directly elected entities should have that charge with the Utilities Commission as the expert advisor.”
Despite the dissolution of the subcommittee, Goodwin wrote that, after consulting with Town Planner Steve Palmer, he feels that draft regulations can be produced within the next month.
Once those regulations have been drafted, Goodwin said he would not be surprised if the commission took two regular meetings to review the subject, followed by a public hearing.
“Further, to be clear, all commissioners and the public will continue to have the opportunity to provide input as to a new and updated set of P&Z regulations,” Goodwin wrote.
Mallozzi, too, said he fully expects the Planning and Zoning Commission to be involved in decisions concerning the town’s wireless future — especially the aesthetics — once a recommendation is made by the Utilities Commission.
Radman did not respond to a request for comment.