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AT&T's cell tower plan topples for now in Greenfield

But concerns remain about potential cell transmission facilities

Dec. 3, 2013

Greenfield — AT&T, at least for now, has withdrawn its request to place a controversial cell tower in the midst of a Greenfield residential neighborhood.

Greenfield officials, stirred by neighborhood unrest tied to the proposal, had expressed concerns about the safety impact of the more than 70-foot tower on surrounding homes.

The city's Plan Commission had earlier notified AT&T, which was working through a tower search company Creospan Inc., that the city wanted to do an independent verification study of the tower's fall zone, the area in which all or parts of the facility could fall under certain conditions.

City staff expressed serious doubts that the fall zone would comply with city safety codes. The city wanted AT&T would have to pay for the study.

No reason was given as to why the tower request was withdrawn and there was no way to know if AT&T will return with another proposal, said Richard Sokol, director of neighborhood services.

"Knowing AT&T, they're not going to just walk away and leave a gap in their coverage," Sokol said.

Public voices

Normally, Greenfield doesn't allow cell towers in residential neighborhoods, but this one would have been on property of the Corner Club, a neighborhood tavern at 4309 W. Grange Ave. that has the commercial zoning needed for cell towers. New state law takes away cities' power to deny cell phone towers solely on the basis of aesthetics.

Tavern owner Greg Schneider said he constantly hears customers complain of poor cell phone service.

"I live in Greenfield and I love Greenfield," Schneider said.

Neighbor Randy Keltner is relieved that the tower request has been withdrawn.

"It's a big relief not only for us, but for everybody around me," said Keltner, who would have seen the proposed tower out his bedroom window.

Verizon's mini-antennas

He knows that his neighborhood is still not out of the woods. Verizon Communications is poised to mount mini-antennas on eight city light poles around the neighborhood to improve its network services.

The eight antennas, approved by the Common Council in September, will be basically in a box from Edgerton to College avenues and 56th to 31st streets. The city would get about $16,740 annually in the form of rent from Verizon, Sokol said.

More than 30 residents, worried about radiation from cell equipment, have signed a petition against the mini-antennas, Keltner said.

"I'd like to see them go anywhere but in the middle of a residential neighborhood, knowing the amount of electro-magnetic radiation," he said.

Keltner said he plans to present studies from Germany, India, Israel and the U.S. that point toward health hazards from cell towers.

Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke said at the least the tower issue has receded, "but it doesn't solve the problem of reception in that area."

The Verizon approach of many small antennas is probably preferable to a 70-foot tower, he said.

ANTENNA SITES

The Verizon Communications mini-antennas are slated to go onto eight Greenfield city light poles as soon as a contract is agreed on at:

· 48th Street and Grange Avenue

· 41st Street and Edgerton Avenue

· 31st Street and Edgerton Avenue

· 56th Street and Edgerton Avenue

· 41st Street and College Avenue

· 43rd Street and Grange Avenue

· 39th Street and Grange Avenue

· 43rd Street and Ramsey Avenue

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