Can you hear me now? Cell phone tower coming to McLouth
by Dennis Sharkey
Can you hear me now?
It’s an often mocked saying of the famous cell phone technician from Verizon Wireless commercials but it is also a real problem many cell phone users in McLouth face on a daily basis.
Cell phone signals are weak if existent at all throughout the city despite which carrier a resident uses.
The tower will be located on the northeast side of town in a pasture about 500 feet east of the trailer park off of Kimberline and Granite streets.
The location is a field with no buildings but will be about 150 feet from the closest property lines and adjoins two residents’ properties.
The McLouth Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the project but clearing the hurdles of the city council was a different story.
Councilman Jim Moore and Councilwoman Barbara Hasemeier both voted against the project but for different reasons.
Hasemeier voiced health concerns for her reason despite being told that the 1996 Federal Communications Act prohibits cities from denying a permit because of health concerns if the project meets Federal Communications Commission requirements.
“I think that’s very wrong,” she said. “I think that’s big brother. We have a right to know if something affects our health.”
Moore objected to the project because of the location for a couple of reasons.
He pointed out that the city has a new lift station and sewer lines in that area for future development. He questioned why a tower would be built in the middle of where a new neighborhood could be located.
“I’m not saying we don’t need a new tower,” Moore said. “I’m just saying there ought to be a different place than dead center of where development is.
“That’s set up so that it can be added on,” Moore added. “Why would you put a cell tower right in the middle of where’s going to be prime real estate.”
Moore said the two people who voiced concerns at the Planning and Zoning hearing are the adjacent property owners. He said their feelings should be considered.
Justin Anderson, a consultant for Verizon Wireless, presented the council with a study conducted in Wyandotte County for T-Mobile that he said proves that towers do not affect property values. Moore said his house is about 1,000 feet from the tower location and he is worried about his property. He said the landowner has no intentions of selling the land and that Verizon is leasing the area.
Moore said he wanted to see alternative sites offered for the tower. He suggested the area by the water tower and the Threshing Bee grounds or next to the city park.
“It’s always going to be park area,” Moore said pointing to the park as an option. “You’re never going to have people living under it.”
Anderson said alternative sites are considered and were vetted. He said the consideration comes before his client reaches this point in the process and that this location is the best location for service. Anderson said the tower will serve the entire community. He said there will be room on the tower for other carriers and emergency and government radio antennas.
“The towers are not just consumer driven,” he said. “We do over 280,000 911 calls every day. I think it’s bigger than two people who object and that are not here.”
Moore told Anderson he did not answer his questions and that he cannot be convinced.
“What would convince me?” Moore said in a response to a question about what would convince him from Anderson. “If you moved it to a place where it’s not going to concern any patrons in the city.”
A resident attending the meeting said the tower only affects two people and that it is good for the community.
“If you tried to use your phone in this town how could you not want it?” a citizen said.
The project was approved by a 3-2 vote.
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