WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s slow going all week on Highland Avenue, the main road through the Town Plot section of Waterbury. All the road construction — and inconvenience — on what was a road in pretty good condition, is apparently for one utility customer, the Masonic Lodge.
“A residential area, being infiltrated by a commercial facility,” said Arthur J. Denze, Sr., President of the Town Plot Neighborhood Association.
Verizon Wireless cut a deal with the local Masons several months ago to locate a cellular communications tower inside the steeple at the Masonic Lodge, on Highland Avenue in Waterbury. Neighbors quickly objected, saying the area is zoned for “residential.” Not to mention their concern for the unknown risks of radio-frequency signals, emitting from the antennas.
“Those antennas face at five degree angles towards houses. North, south and west, located in (the) tower,” said Edward Senk, who has lived at his Highland address since 1960, before the Lodge existed. “Nine antennas.”
Nearly 500 neighbors signed a petition against those plans, but the city’s Zoning Commission granted Verizon special approval to move forward.
“Usually found on poles, 200 feet in the air,” Senk said about the location of other cell towers. “This place is 35 feet off the ground, aimed directly at our homes.”
Adding to neighborhood ire, huge trenches were cut right down several streets, as Eversource runs a gas line to serve as back-up power for the cell tower. Waterbury officials refused to go on camera, but said that Verizon is paying for the road, and that they’ll also cover the costs for a permanent restoration on Highland Avenue, when the job is completely finished.
“When utility comes in to any city, the road is never left the way they found it,” said Denze.
Neighbors have hired a lawyer to appeal the zoning decision. They have a court date set for early December. Several phone calls to reach someone at the Masonic Temple for comment were unsuccessful.