Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More residents fighting cell towers



It seems the community surrounding Margaret Harris school (a countywide school for 79 Pre-K-12 students with moderate to profound disabilities) has been informed that our school board plans to allow T-Mobile to build a cell tower on the school property. And the neighborhood is not happy. Once again, we have a neighborhood saying that they were not properly informed.  Once again, to most, it was a complete surprise to learn of the plans for a cell tower in their back yards. Once again there is talk of a lawsuit.

For more, read these articles:

DeKalb residents meet to fight cell tower

Margaret Harris School-Area Residents Fight Cell Tower Proposal

For those who claim there are no health risks, read this article:


by Karen J. Rogers


This is what it looks like at the bottom

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find it rather incredible that these folks have just learned about the cell towers. It’s even more incredible that they would admit this in public. Do they live in caves? How many stories have covered this on TV, radio, and the paper? With all the whining that’s gone on about this issue, how can they stand up now and say with a straight face that they’ve just heard about this? Is this an Amish community tucked away in our county? Do they know that DCSS has hired a new superintendent? Are they aware that we just voted on another SPLOST?

Dekalbparent said...

Since Margaret Harris is a school that serves students from throughout the county, very few of the residents around the school have children there. Any information sent home with students would not have gotten to them. Since DCSS did not post any sort of notification in the areas surrounding any of the schools, it is more understandable that they are late in finding out. This has been the complaint of people living around Briarlake as well.

These days, I pick and choose what I read in newspapers, and I might well have made the assumption that since I have no kids in DCSS, an article about something happening at some DCSS schools (they were not individually named in the headlines) would not affect me, and not read the article. The TV coverage has mostly been about objections at specific schools, so, again, I might have missed the significance to me personally.

Anonymous said...

There is no signifcance to you personally other than a matter of aesthetics or taste.

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 12:04,

Don't understand your comment....

Anonymous said...

My guess is that 12:04 is stating that there is no health consequence, no $$ consequence, to having a cell tower nearby. To 12:04, the only reason to protest the cell tower would be if you think they are ugly.

Cerebration said...

I just think the board was very short-sighted in getting involved in such a controversial issue. Cell towers cause controversy nationwide. Yes, some schools will receive some money for their trouble, but at the same time, it's proven that these towers reduce property values of the homes nearby, so at best, we're being bad neighbors. At worst, once again, an enormous amount of energy and focus is being directed toward something that has absolutely nothing to do with education.

Anonymous said...

Cere,

I haven't seen any scientific or statistically valid proof that cell towers damage property values.
There are several studies that refute this idea-
http://www.keithvaluation.com/research/cell_tower_study.pdf
[PDF]
The Problem of Faulty Analyses
www.irwaonline.org/eweb/upload/...06/.../Faulty%20Analyses.pdf
It's not what yuo don't know that hurts you-it's what you think you know that ain't so.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:39 Why take a chance?

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't it be significant enough that the citizens don't want it?

Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter said...

Property Values: The Appraisal Institute, the largest global professional membership organization for appraiserswith 91 chapters throughout the world, spotlighted the issue of cell towers and the fair market value of a home and educated its members that a cell tower should, in fact, cause a decrease in home value.

The definitive work on this subject was done by Dr. Sandy Bond, who concluded that "mediaattention to the potential health hazards of [cellular phone towers and antennas] has spreadconcerns among the public, resulting in increased resistance" to sites near those towers.

Percentage decreases mentioned in the study range from 2 to 20% with the percentage moving toward the higher range the closer the property.[3]

Read more here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/55240779/Cell-Tower-Alert

Or check this out:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/64222439/Probability-of-neighboring-cell-tower-also-affects-value-negatively

Or, of course, enjoy our lively discussion of this topic and many, many more at http://www.getthecelloutatl.org where we hate cell towers more than anyone else we know.

Anonymous said...

Dekalb parent, you are exactly right, there is no way you can expect people to catch a hit or miss report on any particular station on any given day. No one watches every single newscast that religiously and no one can watch all stations at one time in case they might mention the school near you.

I think it is an interesting viewpoint that we want to put the responsiblity or blame on the general public here, instead of the people in elected positions who are being paid by US to represent us. We are funding our military to protect our rights, yet we don't seem to mind when our own school board, state and local government official waltz all over those same rights without blinking so much as an eyelash about the thought that they might possibly be making a bad choice that could harm children

Anonymous said...

We, in the South Dekalb area, learned about the cell towers in late September through articles in our neighborhood newspaper and primarily from word of mouth. We don't have children in DCSS anymore and there were no signs posted nor letters sent to inform the community. Moreover, there were no flyers sent home with students at the school since parents didn't even know. One sparsely attended, only 2 people for 3 schools, meeting was certainly inadequate representation. This is a very dangerous precedent. If allowed at these schools today other towers will certainly be erected at other schools tomorrow. Everyone needs to get onboard to oppose this "quality of life" issue in Dekalb County. This is a distraction from the real issues and is a non-education related initiative that will hurt property owners and communities for many years.

Cerebration said...

This is from the Appraisal Journal

Both the survey and market sales analysis find that cellular phone base stations (CPBSs) have a negative impact on the prices of houses in the study areas.

Cerebration said...

Just a reminder: Paul Womack pushed this cell tower initiative at a meeting where he served as chair during Tom's absence. Nancy Jester and Donna Edler were the only board members to vote no.

Anonymous said...

DCSS BOE needs to do the right thing and back out of this contract, take the penalty, and move on. They know they did not do their job in ensuring everyone in each school and surrounding neighborhood was aware this was happening. There isn't a school that wants this other than Lakeside. Lakeside just wants more money for their Valhalla project.

The money has not been promised specifically to each school. Rather, there have been verbal promises that the money will go into a general fund managed by the central office, and schools will "apply" to get some of that money.

Anonymous said...

I also think this is very much about Lakeside.

Anonymous said...

Womack really may not be competent -- he has some very real issues based on his age and dimentia -- there may be some way to get at decisions that have been made on that basis and take him out of the picture if anyone/group wants to take that on.

Anonymous said...

The appraiser's journal is based on a flawed analysis and is incorrect. The scientifically valid articles on the subject show no damage to property values. It's an urban myth. Lokk at the other articles cited in this blog for evidence that statistically supports my contrary view.

Joe said...

I live near Margaret Harris school and only found out about the proposed cell tower at that location two weeks ago. Not a single student at that school lives in the neighborhood (as they are brought in from all over the county) and therefore no one in my neighborhood was notified. Moreover, if you have seen the "flier" that was sent home with the students, you would laugh. No where on the flier does it even state that a cell tower is being proposed at Margaret Harris. Instead, it says that meetings will be held at various locations to discuss cell phone reception in dekalb county. That's all. Even then, no one saw the flier.

I don't read the AJC (who does anymore) nor do I routinely watch the local news. Many of us in the neighborhood recall intermittently hearing on the radio that one or two schools were debating cell phone towers, but not a single resident in my neighborhood had any idea that Margaret Harris had been proposed as a cell tower site.

Additionally, many states voluntarily lower resident's assessed property values (and taxes) because of proximity to a cell phone tower (e.g. Maryland).

Bottom Line: we didn't know, it does hurt property values, there is a perceived health risk (if not real--see the various European studies that have been recently published), and the school board has no business leasing public property to a private business to earn a profit.

DinoMom said...

@Anonymous 9:37

If you were shopping around for a home, can you honestly say that the proximity of a cell tower would have absolutely no influence on whether or not you purchased a particular house? In today's real estate market, there are often multiple homes for sale within a neighborhood that are in the same price range and have the same characteristics. All else being equal, I doubt that many people would choose the home which is close to a cell tower over a equivalent home that is a few streets over. Certainly in that respect, having a cell tower within view is detrimental to your ability to sell your home.

Whether or not you believe that cell tower radiation is harmful to your health, the things are just plain ugly - not the sort of view that any of us want from our front windows.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where Dr. Audrea Berry has been reassigned?

Anonymous said...

I Just to add to what Joe had to say regarding this matter: If a private property owner wanted to change his zoned property usage by leasing a portion of his property to a cell phone company, there is a notification procedure he would have to follow to secure the zoning change. Signs would be posted, area property owners would be notified, public meetings would be held, county commissioners would hold a hearing and vote on any zoning change. Government entities do not have to follow such requirements and utilities, depending on what they are doing, play by a different set of rules generally getting their way. It is easy to understand why few homeowners in the Margaret Harris area are aware of the proposed cell tower. Government does not have to follow the rules that private property owners must follow.

As far as the impact cell towers have on property values, take a few photos of that cell tower from your deck and at various locations in the neighborhood (in winter preferably). Note the location of the tower on a Google Earth map with the locations of the neighborhood photos. Protest your property taxes and when you go before the BOE politely but firmly state your case. Your case is better if the tower is on government property because you had no say in the matter and you stress this fact. Properly presented, you will get a discount on your property taxes.

Anonymous said...

Just ask Zepora and Womack how to get your propoerty taxes lowered.

THEY DID!

Anonymous said...

@ 12:24 pm
I thought Dr. Berry was terminated.

Anonymous said...

terminated and escorted out of the building!

Anonymous said...

@DinoMom
Actually, I’m confident that not having cell service, as is the case in much of my neighborhood, would be more detrimental to selling my house than seeing a cell tower out my kitchen window. Like it or not, cell towers are now part of the landscape. I don’t particularly like them, but neither do I like telephone poles, telephone lines, overhead power lines, cable TV wiring, satellite dishes, transformers or fire hydrants. But they are all part of our utility infrastructure.

DinoMom said...

@Anonymous 4:59

Yes, cell towers are a part of our utility infrastructure and I agree that they are now a permanent part of the landscape. However, given the choice, I'm not going to live next to one and I'm reasonably sure that many people feel the same way. That means if you're trying to sell a house in close proximity to a cell tower, you've already lost a significant part of your potential market. In this housing market, that can really hurt.

All of the examples you cite are valid - but there's a huge difference in scale between a telephone pole or satellite dish and a humongous cell tower. I doubt that very many people have ruled out buying a home because it had a fire hydrant out front.

Cerebration said...

I'll add a photo of a cell tower called "what it looks like at the bottom" to the post.

Anonymous said...

I don’t know who Karen Rodgers is or what her credentials are, but the article you linked to is nothing more than a collection of statements cherry-picked from her listed sources. Not well written and not at all convincing. Do you realize that her most recent reference is 10 years old? And a couple of them are 25 years old? Isn’t it reasonable to assume that technology and research have both advanced since most of these were written? Do you know anyone using a 10-year old cell phone? Do you think cell towers would be installed with 10-year old technology?
I did find it interesting to compare some of these ancient statements to the technology being used today. For instance, she notes something called the Salzburg Resolution (adopted in 2000) that “would prohibit any cell site from emanating more than .1 mW/cm2 – 10,000 times more strict than the current U.S. standard.” If you look at the technical data submitted/posted by T-Mobile, the Maximum Power Density emissions from their towers will be 0.046 mW/cm2 –considerably less than safety threshold that the alarmists were pushing eleven years ago.
Again, not a convincing piece. Reads like a high school science paper.
The photo is actually the most devastating addition to the post. I haven’t seen one quite that ugly before. Looks a lot like a power sub-station over near Northlake. No one objects to that, since it provides electricity to our homes. Where is this tower?

Anonymous said...

Just a shot in the dark here, but I'm guessing the cell tower was a relative non-event among the Margaret Harris community until a certain watchdog group started warning parents their kids would come home with third eyes.

Anonymous said...

To those of you who obviously support cell towers, why don't you offer up your personal address as an option for cell tower placement? Schools should not be in the business of leasing property to commercial businesses with questionable effects on surrounding property values and health. Period. The BOE's job is to ensure our children are educated. Period.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:51: I think most folks are concerned with the effect on property values and the unsightliness of tall towers in general next to their homes or destroying the area vista. I have the perfect piece of property for a cell tower with good elevation and access that backs up to a neighborhood. I would love to have the additional income. However, if I succeeded in having a CT placed on this property, there are about twenty adjacent property owners that would have no problem filling my arse full of lead. They are not concerned with “third eyes”, it is all about the industrialized look the CT brings to the residential area.

Anonymous said...

OK, who set this cell tower on fire?

http://www.ajc.com/news/gwinnett/cell-phone-tower-on-1249298.html

Anonymous said...

Please. If you have purchased a home close to a school, you have already chosen to take the hit on your property valuation. The noise and foot and vehicular traffic is what will hit your valuation, not some structure on school grounds. Try another argument.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:56 - So, I'm assuming you feel just as strongly that schools should not host after-school child care programs - period? Or allow community groups to use their classrooms after hours - period? Or charge admission to sporting events - period? Or invite the general community to attend the school play - period? None of those have to do with educating our children.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if it's a single Anonymous or multiple Anonymi that continue to push the idea that cell towers are no big deal.

Power lines, gas lines, cell towers...they all decrease your property values. Yes, they do, and that is regardless of their health implications. Most people, if given a choice, will choose a house NOT near those items...or will choose to pay SIGNIFICANTLY less. I don't know ANYONE who looks at cell towers or power lines as a BOOST to property values. So please, stop dismissing this as a concern for those being impacted.

Cerebration said...

This is definitely the same person and he or she follows our conversations all around the blogs. It happens. It's called trolling.

Anonymous said...

Anyone see the cell tower in Gwinnett burning and about to fall into a subdivision?

What about falling into a school?

??????

Anonymous said...

Cere:

Come to think of it, Paul Womack kinda looks like a troll.

Anonymous said...

Cere,
I'll start taking your claims seriously if you can provide an honest-to-god peer-reviewed study. I see references to papers, but not the papers themselves. I want to see the science stand up to scrutiny. You may not be able to understand what is real science and how to critically read research. That doesn't mean I have to throw my brain out the window.

More real science, more real references. (Do you know what peer review is? Do you know how to read it critically?) Then I'll believe you and I may even support you. Until then you're a screamy-meemy who has a bee in her bonnet, just like the crazeos in the 70s who thought that high tension wires caused cancer.

Just admit that you don't know what you don't know and you don't know when you're overreacting. Show me A LINK TO A PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL WITH RESEARCH THAT HAS BEEN INDEPENDENTLY SUPPORTED BY OTHER PEER-REVIEWED RESEARCH.

I don't think it exists but I'll let you prove me wrong if you can. If you just whine and complain that your feelings are what's best, then you've proven my point.

Stick to what you know.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:12 - you are welcome to live near a hideous monstrosity of a cell tower. The rest of us don't want to. Nor do we want to live near dumps, nuclear power plants, football stadia, or any other nuisance properties. They are unattractive and create issues. Period.

And gee, don't you have something better to do than DEFEND cell towers? I mean seriously. Do you work for a cell phone company? Or Apple?

Cerebration said...

Point taken, Anon. No, I'm not a scientist. I do know what peer reviewed means, however, as a mother, I am always going to err on the side of safety. I take it all in - I just don't dismiss the things I don't like.

At any rate - as always, my point first and foremost is that our school board has no need to venture into these kinds of oddball contracts that will only garner a little bit of money for a few schools, while alienating many communities. It was a idea that a few board members thought was good, so they pushed it. They will do anything to divert attention from the fact that they are failing in their number one task: Educating nearly 100,000 children.

Cerebration said...

Here are minutes from a 2006 school board meeting in Vancouver, BC as they made the decision to keep cell towers off of school property:

Trustees considered the following item from the report.
(i) Cellular Towers Motion Moved by K. Millsip, seconded by A. Blakey, that
no further installations of cellular antenna be permitted on any school building or school grounds regularly used by students; and
(b)
THAT VSB policy, KMGA: Incompatible Land
Uses Near Schools, be amended to include any installation of cellular antenna within 305M (1,000 feet) of a school as an incompatible use and that the Board be so notified of any potential installation.

Speaking in support of the motion, some trustees noted that:
• research has been done on this item prior to it being thoroughly discussed at previous meetings;
• although the research is not definitive on the possible negative effects of electro-magnetism on human physiology, due to the standard of diligence that the Board must assume in protecting students, it is only prudent to support the motion;
• there should be global caution exercised on the effects of electro- magnetism, until it is conclusively proven to be harmless; and
• in the past, little consideration was given to the potential and cumulative ill effects of other products such as coal dust, asbestos or tobacco products, and the passage of time has shown that that lack of consideration has been a mistake.

A vote was taken on the motion, and it was declared
CARRIED


So, you see, some school boards and some people do have concerns and make decisions accordingly. Just because our school board and some members of our community do not agree with this kind of prudent decision, doesn't mean that people who are cautious are patently wrong. I put it out here so that people can see that real people on real school boards take real actions that err on the side of safety.

And since cell towers have nothing to do with education, it's all the more reason to just say no.

Anonymous said...

Check out this burning cell tower in Gwinnett county:
http://www.wsbtv.com/s/news/gwinnett/

Anonymous said...

Cereb and others

You all are beating a dead horse. At the DCSS meeting when the towers were approved, Dr Walker said that his constituents ( half the County) wanted the towers and the money. That should end it all unless Regards Walker's mind can be changed

Anonymous said...

If these towers are going to go through, the monthly rental should absolutely go to the school. $25,000 upfront is fine, but then the schools left with the eyesore and so is the community. This is unacceptable. The BOE may have pushed this through, but they can let the money come back to the school.

What was the Briarlake PTA thinking? They may have just been thinking of what they wold do with the $25,000, but they will move on as their children leave Briarlake, and new children and parents will come to the school. The school will be left with this great big tower and the county office will be funneling the money to whatever pet project they want.

This is true of ALL of schools that are being forced to take these cell towers. They are being stripped of the monthly fee while they are left with an ugly edifice. Goodness knows very little money actually makes it into our classrooms so the schools can use every penny.

Are DCSS parents happy with this financial arrangement whereby the Central Office takes the monthly fees from the schools? Has no one complained to their BOE member and Dr. Atkinson that this is totally unfair and unacceptable for the schools to be stuck with such a poor financial arrangement? Where are the PTAs in all of this? They should be insisting that the schools get the monthly fees. It's a safe bet that the parents would support them. What parent doesn't think the monthly fees belong to the school?

Anonymous said...

Without the monthly fees going to the Central Office, they might have reduced incentive to go ahead with the cell towers. If money isn't controlled by the Central Office, they have little interest in it.

Anonymous said...

Precisely...which is why you will never get the BOE to give the monthly fees to the schools - they want it. Schools don't even get the fees generated when an outside group uses the school - those also go into the general school sytem fund.

Anonymous said...

Saw today in the AJC that a DNR board member stands to benefit financially from a DNR project. I wonder, just wonder, if certain Dekalb school board members (one specifically) may benefit financially from the cell tower contracts.

Cerebration said...

Amid all of the crazy band news, we also were informed of a bit of disturbing news on the cell tower issue. It seems that the actual contract with T-Mobile wasn't officially signed until recently - much after many communities fought them.


From No Briarlake Tower, LLC:

We now have a copy of the signed contract between T-mobile and DCSS for Briarlake ES. It is signed by Cheryl Atkinson on December 8th, 2011. Please note this date. This date is 3 days after we spoke at the BOE meeting. This date is five months after the July 11th meeting. During these past 5 months we have all been told that this contract was signed. As you can see, it was not signed until now. Our DeKalb County School System knowingly withheld information from its constituents. The BOE did not deal with this in a level manner. No Briarlake Tower, LLC obtained a copy of this contract via the Open Records Act. The planned tower site is situated to the rear of the school property on the land our outdoor classroom/amphitheater currently occupies.

You can download a copy of the lease and Exhibit B(Site plan)on our downloads page.
Please spread the word to all neighbors but especially the ones that are bordering the school property line as indicated by the site plan linked above.


http://www.nobriarlaketower.org/files

Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter said...

To Anon 12/2 2:07 - If you are concerned about documents that are out of date, you might want to check that one from T-mobile that you are referencing that was submitted to the school board and posted online for everyone to review in connection with this proposal - it is from 2009, states that it is regarding a site in Marietta, is signed by an engineer from Colorado and was prepared by a company based in Virginia. In addition, it is common for cell commpanies to submit an application for emissions at a low level, then add multiple antennas and upgrades later when the public has no opportunity to review or comment. Further, there is no governing body that routinely montiors the emissions from towers and there is no process by which the cumulative effect of multiple towers or multiple wireless devices under the same roof are measured for their combined effect on a person or other living thing.

And, since you brought it up, the other documents submitted to the school board, such as the mount and pole evaluations, are also out of date. So, either T-mobile doesn't want us to know what they are really building, is building something out of date and not up to current code, or is terribly unorganized and can't keep their documents straight. More disturbing is that our school board members did not review the documents closely enough to notice these obvious areas of concern, nor did the committee headed by Steve Donahue that was trusted to provide input on the subject in order to assist the board with its decision.

Even more disturbing is that our county commissioners and Office of Planning and Sustainability, which has people qualified to look for things like these, is laying down and playing dead. Rather than stepping up and performing the zoning review tasks they have been elected to perform to protect and represent our residents, they are buying the false claim that the school board is exempt from local zoning and therefore T-mobile is, too.

Did anyone here know that when you elect a school board member you should be looking for an extensive engineering degree, architecture, drafting or other background that will make you feel safe if they decide to build a huge 150' steel tower with HAZMAT materials at the base and place it right next to school children, homes, sidewalks and streets?

On the flip side, if you have a controversal business you would like to get approved and it requires a change in zoning, don't use the traditional methods for approvals, just shell out some cash to your school board member and you can build whatever you want on school grounds... gas station, gun range, strip club, XXX toy store, recycling center, chicken incinerator, race track... doesn't matter... school board says the state has made them above the law and all they feel obligated to consider is the dollar amount you can add to the bottom line. Don't have money up front? That's fine, too. Draw up your own lease agreement for as many years as you would like. As long as most of the payoff is upfront and most of the penalty is put off for future boards or future classrooms to deal with, then you will be approved and operational in no time!