2017-09-14 / Front Page

‘Stealth’ cell tower may be built in alternate area

BY TANYA TERRY
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com

BURTON — After residents said the towers are known to collapse if a part fails and could catch on fire and expressed various other concerns, six city council members at the Sept. 5 city council meeting voted unanimously not to approve and authorize the application submitted by Verizon Wireless for the erection of a new 150-foot stealth monopole tower facility. The structure was to be located at the northwest corner of Genesee and Atherton Roads.

Jan McDaniel asked why the gentlemen representing Verizon only went to Judson Baptist Church, where the tower was proposed to be built, and not into the community to ask how others felt. Donald Embury presented the council with 120 signatures of community members who petitioned for the tower not to be built.

“A recent survey of the National Institution of Science, Law and Public Policy found that 94 percent of home buyers are less interested and will pay less for homes that are located near a stealth tower,” Embury said.

He also said the traffic at the intersection of Genesee Road and Atherton Road has been steadily increasing over past several years, and the intersection is the main one Atherton Community Schools use for their buses. Embury said a 150-foot tower would cause a distraction of people looking to see what is at the top, and would be an obstacle on the ground.

“We all know there have been accidents at the corner of Atherton and Genesee, and the last thing I want to see is more accidents there,” Embury said.

City Attorney Amanda Doyle said according to the Sixth Circuit Court there are things the council could and couldn’t consider when deciding whether to approve an application of this nature.

Doyle said the decision should be based on whether the applicant has demonstrated there is a clear gap in coverage and whether the applicant has demonstrated the location is the least intrusive. She added the court has ruled governing bodies cannot consider the NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) argument.

Doyle said aesthetics and whether people want to look at the tower is not substantial evidence and the council cannot consider health factors, such as radiation or cancer, as a reason for approval or denial. She also explained the only time property value can be considered is when documented, expert testimony has taken place at a public hearing.

Council President Steve Heffner said the applicant did not demonstrate a clear gap in coverage, and Councilman Dennis O’Keefe said the intrusiveness of the location was demonstrated by the people who called him all weekend.

Council Vice President Duane Haskins asked Robert LaBelle, attorney for Verizon Wireless, if Verizon would go to Walker Farms if they were not going to be able to put the tower on the corner of Genesee and Atherton roads. LaBelle stated they would.

Neil Martz, who spoke as a representative of Walker Farms, said the owners of the farms are willing to negotiate.

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