By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Residents hung up on cell plan
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News
What’s next

Two more public meetings on the cell phone tower proposal are as follows:

• Vickery Creek Middle School: 7 p.m. Feb. 8, in the school cafeteria

• Kelly Mill Elementary School: 5 p.m. Feb. 11, Forsyth County Board of Education and Professional Development Center

• On the Net:
A plan to allow cell towers on local school campuses drew some static Monday night.

The Forsyth County Board of Education held the first of three planned public meetings at Riverwatch Middle School, one of three sites selected as a possible tower location.

The other sites are Vickery Creek Middle School and the future Kelly Mill Elementary.

Monday’s meeting drew about 16 people, most of whom had concerns about the safety of children, property values and recent studies.

T-Mobile proposed the towers to the board in November, though Chair-woman Ann Crow said no timeline has been set for a decision.

The plan comes at a time when the district school is considering alternate sources of revenue, particularly with the state expected to further slash funding.

“This was just another proposal that has been brought to us to consider,” Crow said. “We don’t do any of this without having public hearings, that’s why you all are part of the process.”

Community meetings for the other two proposed sites will take place in the weeks ahead.

Most of those who spoke Monday declined to give their names. Several cited studies showing potential health effects of non-ionizing radiation from cell towers.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, radio frequencies on the ground from cell towers are thousands of times below the safe limit.

T-Mobile representative Frank Romeo said radio frequencies are everywhere, and much stronger in many home devices.

But most at the meeting felt there was no need to add to that exposure at school.

Parents like Robert Galop urged the board not to approve towers without being 100 percent sure of safety.

“I don’t want my child 10, 20, 30 years from now to be a statistic,” he said.

Ken Shadoff wanted to make sure that studies would be conducted to ensure that the frequencies would be as low as promised.

A site study would be done before and after the tower is built to assure compliance, Romeo said.

Residents near the school also felt strongly that the appearance of the towers could drive down property values.

Romeo said the 150-foot tall structure likely would not be too noticeable.

He also said a study conducted in areas with towers near Atlanta had determined no adverse effects on property values.

The site at Riverwatch was selected to bring better reception to those in the Windermere area.

Zoning requirements have made it difficult to put a tower in the neighborhood, said Dave Peluso, a consultant with Pat Marshall and Associates.

Under the proposed agreement, the 30-year leases could each generate about $150,000 every five years for the district. Up to three additional cell phone companies could use the towers at a cost of $150 per month.

“We’re under great revenue pressure,” said board member Mike Dudgeon, who was met by people saying they’d rather pay more taxes than have cell towers at school.

Dudgeon said he has one child at Riverwatch and another soon to attend, so the decision will affect his family.

Having a phone up to your ear exposes you to far more radiation than a cell tower, he said, adding that “it’s all a matter of perspective.”