In 2015, the City of Norwalk began leasing government-owned land to a private cellular company for the construction of a cell tower. That agreement basically said that the city would receive rent annually through 2055, or until the property no longer hosts the tower; whichever comes first.

Under the lease terms, Norwalk can expect to generate a total of $150,000 in revenue by the year 2030… if cell towers still exist by then.

Last night, Norwalk City Council considered a piece of legislation that would have sold this lease to a third-party company for one lump payment of  $150,000. With one ordinance, we could have wiped away nearly 25% of our anticipated  $800,000 (2018) deficit. But that revenue stream died in a 4-3 vote.

Council members Chris Castle, Deb Lucal and Samantha Wilhelm voted for the legislation. But that wasn’t enough to stop no votes from Chris Mushett, Steve Schumm, Dwight Tkach and Dave Wallace from defeating it. The four councilmen contended that no one has “a crystal ball” and that foreseeing future trends in technology is nearly impossible.

But according to a recent article published by the Filo Group, Qualcomm is currently testing device-to-device technology that will “allow smartphones to bypass cell towers to communicate with other devices within a 500-meter range”. CNBC reports that this technology “is anticipated to be on the market within a year”.

The article goes on to say that “small cells are critical to 5G and, therefore, the future of next generation cellular technology” and that “device-to-device technology is imminent”. A little further down the page, the author suggests that “to mitigate risk and collect the most money possible, it may be in your best interest to sell your lease to a third-party buyout company”.


In short, we don’t have a crystal ball. But the writing’s on the wall. We only need to read it to know that the technological changes that we’ll see by 2030 are going to be staggering. And it looks like Norwalk City Council has once again gambled our future on their insistence to focus only on the past.