Right on, RTM

It’s not always the case where you can say to the members of the Representative Town Meeting “job well done,” but they certainly did the right thing when it voiced its opposition to the cell tower plan for Valley Road.

By a large margin, a vote of 150-33 with 10 abstentions, the RTM has said it is willing to stand by residents who are fighting against an ill-conceived plan to install a cell tower at the Aquarion property on Valley Road. The tower will be attached to an existing water tank, and not only is it an aesthetic annoyance, it’s a potential health risk and a slap in the face to homeowners who paid premium Greenwich waterfront prices thinking they were going to avoid this kind of needless development.

This was a non-binding resolution and the Board of Selectmen can simply make a paper airplane out of it if they wish. We wish they would look at it and see that the will of the people is for joining this fight against an unnecwessary piece of potentially dangerous equipment. The board is not under obligation to do anything now, but we hope its members are listening.

This resolution is not the work of a disaffected few. These are responsible neighbors who want to protect their property against intrusion and members of the RTM who see danger in the precedent. No one relishes this fight, but it was placed upon them by the actions of Aquarion and AT&T. The language in the deed may not be crystal clear, but the intention of the town in 1952 when the property was first sold to Aquarion is. This property is for water use only and anything else is corporate spin and legal loopholes.

One thing to remember is that the members of the board who have opposed joining the lawsuit, First Selectman Peter Tesei and Selectman David Theis, are not doing it for malice or because they prioritize cell towers over people. They just believe that the town would be wasting its money by getting involved in a case that town counsel thinks it will lose.

They see the deed and see the absence of the word “exclusively” when it comes to what mandates are in place for what is and isn’t considered water company purposes, and believe that’s an opening that AT&T and Aquarion will be able to drive right through to get the judge to rule in their favor. On this we politely disagree, and feel the residents who have filed suit are on solid ground. The selectmen should reconsider joining this lawsuit because it is in the town’s best interests.

It was never the intention of the town in 1952 to allow for construction like this to the detriment of the neighborhood. Of course, no one back then could have foreseen the need for cell towers, but just as technology has improved by leaps and bounds to make cell phones possible, it will do so again to make towers irrelevant.

We’re not lawyers here at the Post, but the concerns expressed by RTM members that the town would essentially be forfeiting a potentially valuable right for the property to revert to the town if Aquarion is found to have violated the terms of the 1952 deed should be fully heard. We don’t want to make the kind of long-term mistakes that can impact neighborhoods just because people feel the need to have their phones glued to their bodies 24/7.

The neighbors opposing this plan have taken on a lengthy and costly fight. The RTM did the right thing by showing it has their backs. We now hope the selectmen do the right thing as well and follow suit.

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