TOWERING OVER ALL – THE CELL PHONE TOWER CONTROVERSY

Zoning officials today are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to siting cellular-phone towers or other antenna installations. Although legally, local authorities cannot refuse them or attempt to design zoning regulations based on health effects, the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 does give local governments and entities the right to regulate the placement, construction, and modification of such towers.

SEC. 704. FACILITIES SITING; RADIO FREQUENCY EMISSION STANDARDS.
(a) NATIONAL WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS SITING POLICY- Section 332(c) (47 U.S.C. 332(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
(7) PRESERVATION OF LOCAL ZONING AUTHORITY-

(A) GENERAL AUTHORITY- Except as provided in this paragraph, nothing in this Act shall limit or affect the authority of a State or local government or instrumentality thereof over decisions regarding the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities.

(B) LIMITATIONS-
(i) The regulation of the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities by any State or local government or instrumentality thereof–
(I) shall not unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services; and
(II) shall not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services.
(ii) A State or local government or instrumentality thereof shall act on any request for authorization to place, construct, or modify personal wireless service facilities within a reasonable period of time after the
request is duly filed with such government or instrumentality, taking into account the nature and scope of such request.
(iii) Any decision by a State or local government or instrumentality thereof to deny a request to place, construct, or modify personal wireless service facilities shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record.
(iv) No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emissions.
(v) Any person adversely affected by any final action or failure to act by a State or local government or any instrumentality thereof that is inconsistent with this subparagraph may, within 30 days after such action or failure to act, commence an action in any court of competent jurisdiction. The court shall hear and decide such action on an expedited basis. Any person adversely affected by an act or failure to act by a State or local government or any instrumentality thereof that is inconsistent with clause (iv) may petition the Commission for relief.

GenCom has a variance request in front of the Fort Wayne Board of Zoning Appeals to allow it to construct a 150-foot cell phone tower at 1427 Broadway, which is included in our West Central Neighborhood boundaries. The tower will then be leased to Centennial. The tower will sit close to the street and will be completely visible driving Broadway north to south. The tower will also be visible, due to its height, from the opposite direction.

GenCom has not made any effort to work with the West Central Neighborhood on this issue other than to have a Centennial spokesman attend our last meeting. He did not have all the facts or data with him as it related to the need to establish a tower, and it became evident as we continued to ask questions.

One piece of information that did come out of the meeting was the fact that the tower is not needed for residential reception. It primarily is needed to boost cell phone reception by motorists driving through a very minimal “dead zone.” The hypocrisy of this is that we admonish drivers not to talk on their cell phones while driving yet companies turn around and attempt to make reception available in every possible area so that motorists can talk on their phones on their homeward-bound drive.

The following clip is from YouTube and shows the creative ways in which some companies are actually trying to be a “good neighbor.” Apparently, some companies feel it is important to work with communities to reach a solution as to disguising the stark, ugliness of a straight metal structure jutting into the air.

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To give an idea of the height of the tower, compare it to the Statue of Liberty – a symbol with which we should all be familiar. The Statue of Liberty is 306.8 feet from the bottom of the base to the top of the torch. From the Statue’s feet on the base to the torch is 152.2 feet. So imagine a tower the size of the Statue plopped down in a highly visible area of heavy traffic.

 

 

Photo Credit: Statue of Liberty Facts
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We have every right to request the zoning board to deny this variance – to have the tower placed elsewhere. But, if the zoning board decides to approve the variance, then we should demand that it impose restrictions on the construction so that it conforms to the guidelines of the West Central Plan adopted by the City. Those guidelines state:

“Encourage new construction designs to be complementary to the historic nature of the neighborhood.”

The argument that it can’t be done is superficial. Fort Wayne Newspapers, Starbucks, and St. Joe Hospital have all done outstanding work on their designs to bring them into conformance with the West Central Plan. It is time residents and citizens made their thoughts and concerns known as to how our neighborhood will be perceived. It is our neighborhood, and we have the right and the obligation to ensure that new structures do, indeed, complement the historic nature of West Central.

WHAT: Public Hearing
WHERE: City-County Building, Room 126 (first floor)
WHEN: Janaury 31, 2008
TIME: 6:00 p.m.

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Cities and Towns, History, Politics, Statues and Monuments, Technology, West Central Neighborhood. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to TOWERING OVER ALL – THE CELL PHONE TOWER CONTROVERSY

  1. Kevin Knuth says:

    The problem with “stealth” towers is that they are, for obvious reason, much more expensive.

  2. roach says:

    I’ve got the perfect spot: next to the verizon building, near main, and barr? maybe a nice brown tower camoflage? ohh. been there, did that. how about atop summit square? or fwnb bank building? of all the stupid places. unless its right by home plate by harrison square- put a flag, and a web-cam, so we can watch the wizards play, even if we’re in china, or india, since theres no jobs here. or how about right by steve shines law office and fountain? he can enjoy the view every day, all day?
    priceless?
    of all the stupid locations. stir up the peasants over a diversion, and then we can sneak something right through, while they’re distracted? surely theres got to be a better site?
    and dont call me shirley… giggle

  3. Kevin:

    I know, but look at what other companies have done. The board has the power to impose conditions, and if GenCom wants the tower badly enough, then they will invest in a disguise. If they don’t then they will have to find another location.

    Probably the challenge will be convincing the board.

    I didn’t forget about the pictures. For some reason, neither my desktop nor my laptop will burn the images to disk. I must be doing something wrong, but I will keep trying.

  4. Pingback: Pyramids for Headwaters… « North Fort Wayne River Development

  5. Phil Marx says:

    GenCom should fly a huge American flag from the top of their tower. Now, it’s been changed from an eyesore to a symbol of this nation’s magnificent splendiferous greatness! (Invoke God’s name somewhere for greater patriotic effect)

    Any one who goes against the tower is against the flag. Unless West Central is willing to admit that their “association” is really a communistic, terroristy, un-Americanish plot (Insert ungodly somewhere for greater patriotic effect), they will be forced to back down on this one.

    Or will they…? They could climb on top of the GE building first and plant an even larger flag there. This would show those GenCom(munists) who’s in charge.

  6. phil marx’s post reminds me of “otters speech” on youtube.com, from “animal House”

    why stop there- since we live in a grandiose socialist city, ruled by grandiose socialist leaders, who love to build grandiose dowtown projects as monuments to their grandiosity, built, paid for, and taxed in the backs of the peasant class (us), why stop there.
    heres the mother of all failed downtown hotel projects, and towering monuments to grandiose stupidity:

    headwaters park? bad idea- 1.21 gigawatt lightning bolts are attracted to tall towers right next to beer tents- dont stand in a puddle. unless you enjoy mass electrocutuions. besides, twin towers located in headwaters park will spoil the view of downtown.

    what about building it on top of the hill at reservoir park? altitude equals signal range.
    or over towards BAE?GE tayolr st, near the old slater steels/valbruna plant- jerry and tom henry might like that site.
    what about near the windmill by AEP downtown, near the now vacant krogers?

    since we have a tower by snider HS, why not near South side.
    maybe rudisill- tippman property-welfafe, unemployment?

    maybe the old site of the jailhouse flats- (proposed tower #2) isnt such a bad diea- used to be a gallows there years ago. lots of hangings. with a 200 foot tower, we could hang somebody , as the proverbial biblical tale says “higher than hyman”.
    we must be sure , most of all, to make sure the site is located so as to pay the right property owners. follow the money- what about another site- such as the city’s murray street complex- the taxpayers would get money, and as a condition, the city (us) could have govt communications antennas there too.
    we have to rush, you know- gotta have it now. you know the song and dance by now. hurry! haste isnt waste!
    maybe the old allen count motors site? lots of other valid places.
    maybe right out in fron of that guy who hates trains in west central? or behind kevin knuths home? or by the journal gazette’s new building?
    lots of alternative sites.
    but look for it to rise defiantly , like the proverbial finger, right where they want it, to hellwith us peasky peasnats.

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