- By Dan Veaner
Part two of a public hearing was held at the Lansing Town Hall on January 19 to allow residents to voice support or objections to the plan. Ryan Janowski was present to represent Cingular and answer questions raised by residents and the board.
The plan is to erect a 190 foot tall tower on Mrs. Searles' property. The height and location were determined by Cingular's engineer to provide optimum coverage, inside homes and vehicles as well as out. Cellular companies identify an oblong circle that defines the best placement for a tower. Then they start knocking on doors. Mrs. Searles was the second resident they approached to lease property, and when she was interested the approval process was begun.
The most vocal dissenters were Al and Debbie Chaffee. After an Internet search they expressed strong concerns about health problems stemming from radio frequencies, citing countless articles they found online. They also felt the visual impact would diminish property values for neighboring lots. Gregory Lawrence also raised questions, asking "How high is high enough?" and should this tower "be considered jointly with other towns that are also considering towers?"
Regarding health concerns Mr. Janowski replied that the Cingular engineer, Joseph Abram, had provided a "Rate of Frequency Safety Analysis" that shows the Cingular equipment would not threaten residents' health, even if you stood by the tower "24 hours a day, 365 days per year." The analysis says the equipment radiates 3000 times less than the FCC allowance. Janowski said that standing in a room while cooking in your microwave oven or watching television with rabbit ear antennae would be more hazardous than emissions from the cell tower.
At the request of the town board Cingular flew a balloon at the proposed site, at the height the tower will be, if built. They took pictures from various locations around Searles Road and superimposed a picture of a tower to show how it would look. The tower is tall and thin, soaring well above the tree line.
The board asked several questions, and requested documentation. Board member Bud Shattuck in particular raised a number of issues, including whether it is really necessary to build the tower so high. The assembly was told that the cost of one tower over 25 years is from $700,000 to one million dollars including negotiating the lease, rental for 25 years, engineering and equipment costs, maintenence, upgrades and so on. The company expects to break even after approximately 15 years.
Cingular provided maps, documentation and pictures which were helpful to the board and were shown to those present, though Mr. Shattuck expressed annoyance that they had not been provided ahead of time so the board could consider them along with other documentation they had.
Mr. Shattuck said that the county had built a tower on top of the jail, and put out bids for co-locators who pay $2000.00 per month (times twelve months times four co-locators equals $96,000.00 per year). Mr. Janowski explained that all the major cellular companies have a pre-negotiated agreement to share towers, but that each company would have to invest in studies and equipment. Cingular provided maps showing the impact of a shorter tower versus the proposed 190 feet, but expressed concerns that if the tower is not at that height other companies might determine they can not use it, with the implication that other towers would be built in the area.
After much discussion the board voted to extend the public hearing to next month's board meeting, scheduled for February 16 at 7:05 PM at the Lansing Town Hall.