Oct 15 2017

Opinion: Prior Cell Tower Discussions by City Council

Report: Cell Towers, High School Parking, Bond Reissuance –

On October 2nd, 2017, a City Council meeting was held in the Piedmont Council Chambers. After the pledge of allegiance the council held a moment of silence for the victims of the Las Vegas massacre. The council then started going through the Consent Calendar, in which the Mayor removed himself from voting on item 6 [concerning private undergrounding bonds: Consideration of Direction to Staff Regarding the Possible Refinancing of the Bonds of the Dudley, Mountain, and Blair Avenues Underground Assessment District; the Wildwood and
Crocker Avenues Underground Assessment District; and the Piedmont Hills Underground Assessment District] because he was a resident of the neighborhood impacted by the bonds.

The next item on the agenda was the Public Form where a couple of stunning young lads, Lane Bentley [author] and Julian Turner, got up to talk about the incredibly painful parking issue that occurs around the high school campus. They suggested that we open the Community Center parking lot which is near the Main Park for parking all day during school hours.

Once they finished the Public Forum, the Council moved on to the main topic of discussion which was the proposed cell phone tower plan by Crown Castle. There are many sites proposed lying throughout Piedmont mostly in residential areas and parks on top of telephone polls.

Kevin Jackson, Planning Director,  stated facts about the Crown Castle communications debate on the telecommunications issue.

The next person to speak was Pierce MacDonald-Powell of the City Planning Department, who noted all the sites of the cellular towers and stated additional facts addressing the issue. After which, two representatives of Crown Castle got up and spoke on behalf of the company. They said that the towers were not breaking any rules or safety regulations and that Crown Castle has worked with the city of Piedmont in order to try to reach a compromise.

After the two Crown Castle members spoke it was time for the public to speak. Every single person to get up and speak address the council pleaded there disinterest in the towers due to variety of things. One of those was aesthetics, almost mentioned the damage to the aesthetics of Piedmont.

A more serious issue with the cell phone towers that was brought up was health concern. One man was stating that one of the towers was no more than 10 feet from a family’s balcony. Another speaker mentioned how the FCC safety regulation regarding the radius of radiation was inaccurate because the “safe” frequencies have caused harm.

A couple of speakers mentioned a medical condition that these towers cause where the electromagnetic fields from the towers cause pulsation and pain within a person’s head. Their argument was that since the government is requiring these cell towers, they cannot cause harm on the people of the state because that would go directly against protection laws.

Another man living near Witter Field said that the plates they were going to use for the sidewalk next to the cell phone tower would cause noise pollution and ruin the peace for those living near Witter Field.

Unfortunately, I had to leave in the middle of the public hearing, but on my way out I interview a young boy who was at the meeting, his name is JD. He told me that he was there for the Boy Scout merit badge – Citizenship in the Community. He didn’t have much else to say as far as his concerns and issues that he wants changed, but he did state that his view of the issue changed.

When I asked JD about his thoughts on the meeting, he told me that he really didn’t have any prior knowledge of the meeting, but he did say, “At first I thought that the cell phone towers were all beneficial, but then I learned about all the potential health effects that come with them.” JD was also surprised about the amount of people that were so strongly opposed to the towers. JD is still working on his merit badge and becoming an Eagle Scout and hopes that there are no cell phone towers outside his house.

A City Council meeting happens about twice a month and the City Council members consider actions and take input from the residents of Piedmont about certain problems and issues affecting our community.

by Lane Bentley, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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