Cell tower proposal draws static in Talent

TALENT — A resident opposed to a planned 80-foot-tall wireless Internet tower at the city's public works yard on Suncrest Road has gone door to door to more than 150 homes to alert his neighbors.

Planning commissioners will hold a public hearing on the tower at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the community center, 206 E. Main St.

John Conley, who lives on Quail Circle less than 350 feet from the site where Clearwire wants to build, distributed fliers that claim the tower presents a health hazard and will decrease property values and that the firm hasn't explored placing its equipment on other towers in town.

"It's right by my home ... it's also a terrible view," he said. "They are going to piggyback it in the future with other antennae.

"I planned to landscape to cover a nearby (proposed) baseball field. There's no way to cover an 80-foot tower."

Conley said he plans to distribute information at Tark's Market today. But he is disappointed at a lack of response to his effort. He handed out copies of comment forms the city has sent to neighbors, but the city only received about 20 responses.

"I put on envelopes with stamps. It wouldn't have had any response if I hadn't done that, " said Conley. "I don't know what to do but plead my case."

The City Council approved a contract to lease land for the tower in January. Clearwire provides wireless Internet services in other Rogue Valley towns. The company would pay the city $1,200 per month after the project is approved.

Federal Communication Commission rules prohibit health concerns as an issue in consideration of towers that emit radio frequencies. FCC prescribes and regulates maximum safe levels of emissions.

Hearing notices were sent to about 70 residents who live within 250 feet of the boundaries of the 5.2 acres of public works facilities, said City Planner John Adam. Four comment sheets favored the project, while others raised questions or voiced concerns. Adam's staff has recommended approval if the company gets an FCC license.

Clearwire previously met with nearby neighbors on Feb. 7. Concerns raised at the meeting included loss of property value, antenna size and use of existing towers.

Clearwire representative Kevin Martin, in a response included in the applications, noted that the highest location the company could get on an existing tower owned by U.S. Cellular was 50 feet above the ground.

Martin also included a 1985 city of Portland report that showed the presence of 600-foot towers in that city did not decrease values of houses near the structures. He noted the antenna would be smaller than the 12-foot-wide "top hat" seen on most cell phone towers and will look more like a traditional utility pole.

A 120-foot tower at the Talent Truck Stop is being reevaluated by Clearwire, according to a representative of American Tower, which owns the structure.

"When they first inquired on this site, we told them we only had (space) lower on the tower," said George Glinatsis, account manger for the Pacific Northwest. He discovered in a reevaluation that a location at the 115-foot level is available.

"Just simply having space doesn't make it a viable option for a carrier," Glinatsis noted.

Commissioners can either accept, accept with conditions, or deny the application.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.

Share This Story