As demand for streaming and other mobile services increase, providers are looking to placing cell towers in Eugene neighborhoods. Most of us have a cell phone and many people use them for everything from music, to watching videos, checking social media, reading this newsletter, or even making an occasional phone call.
This creates a conundrum – while we desire fast data service, we are also concerned about the impacts of towers including visual blight, reduced property values, noise from cooling equipment, and feared health and environmental impacts from Radio Frequency (RF) radiation. The challenge is to balance the rights of property owners, neighbors, and demands for faster and dependable service.
Because towers cannot be located on residential property, providers have increasingly targeted churches with residential locations but different zoning. Struggling congregations see towers are a potential source of income – often hundreds of thousands of dollars. While federal law greatly restricts how local government can regulate tower placement, cities and impacted neighbors do have options.
The JWN Board contacted the Interim Head of Planning and advocated for a more transparent process in siting towers as well as seeking the endorsement of the Neighborhood Leaders Council. We suggest:
- That impacted parties must be provided with all relevant coding restrictions and requirements along with a copy of the permit request.
- That, as the closest representative body, the relevant city recognized neighborhood association be notified and provided with all relevant coding restrictions and requirements along with a copy of the permit request. Dealing with the city is both complex and intimidating and we feel that neighborhood associations are the best placed in assisting effected parties, especially the elderly or disabled.
- That on request, a Planning staff member brief all interested parties at a public meeting and that briefing should include the legal options of those impacted to challenge the permit or mitigate its impact.
What you can do:
If you live near a church or large commercial property talk with your neighbors, reach out to the property owners, and keep informed. For more info see: https://www.facebook.com/WestsideNeighborsforResponsibleCellTowerPlacement/ and http://www.eugeneweekly.com/20160623/news-features/churches-are-new-homes-cell-towers