Northwest NEWS

June 7, 1999

Editorial

Long-term planning needed for siting of cell towers

(An excerpt from a letter sent by the writer to King County Land Use Services Division.)

   I received notice in the mail from King County that U.S. West proposes replacing an existing 64-foot wood electric pole with a 100-foot wood pole and adding telecommunications antennas and a lightning rod to the top of the new pole. As required, a sign would be placed near the proposed location. However, since the area is extremely isolated and rural, the residents in the immediate area cannot see the sign.

   Had I not been informed by a U.S. West employee that the sign would be placed there, our entire neighborhood would not have known about it. Only residents living further away who travel on that particular part of the road would see the sign.

   I have several concerns about the proposal. My property is directly adjacent to the proposed site. In fact, it appears that the tower would be just a few feet from my property. The tower would be a mere 40-60 feet away from the house itself, and probably only about 30 feet away from my neighbor's house.

   My two-story home was built with extensive use of windows in order to take full advantage of the beautiful rural views. If the tower is placed in the proposed location, I will be forced to see approximately the top 40-50 feet of it, along with the antennas and the lightning rod. Specifically, I would see it from every window from both the south and west portions of my home (the view from 13 windows of my home would be impacted). In addition, I will be forced to see the tower from my deck and my swim spa, and every time I am outside enjoying my yard. This is not satisfactory to me. I live in the country so that I can view nature, not cell phone towers.

   A commercial building permit was applied for. However, the proposed site is not located in a commercial setting, but rather a very rural residential setting. Commercial ventures should occur in commerical areas.

   Real estate agents who are familiar with the area would tell you that, even assuming that the towers do not cause health problems, having one in my neighborhood will not make my house worth more. The visual impact alone will affect the value of my property. The proposed tower would have a profoundly negative effect on the values of properties in the immediate vicinity.

   I realize the importance felt by some of developing a wireless infrastructure. If this proposal is approved, the surrounding areas would also become a nuisance area. No buyers will want to buy a home in a nuisance area unless the price is far below the market price. This is not fair to me or others living in the community.

   I have worked extremely hard as a single person to purchase my own home. My property taxes continue to go up each year, and now I am being threatened with my property value being significantly deceased and my quality of life being adversly impacted.

   An employee of U.S. West informed me that the proposed tower would have a lightning rod at the top of it. This greatly concerns me as well, because the rod will actually attract lightning. This will result in increased EMFs, may possibly adversely affect my safety and that of my property, and be an overall hazard to the immediate area.

   How and why was this particular site chosen? I have learned from an employee at U.S. West Wireless that the original intended location was another nearby neighborhood. However, that neighborhood was successful in not allowing the tower to be placed there. Where was the original proposed location and how did the neighborhood succeed in disallowing the tower to be placed there?

   Just because the site may seem unique to U.S. West because there is an existing 60-foot utility pole maintained by PSE does not make it a satisfactory site. The existing power poles are low enough that they are hidden by trees, so that none are seen by any of the homes in the area. However, when a wireless company plans to use or replace an existing telephone pole, there are no height limitations. In this case, they will replace a 60' pole with a 100' pole and add another 10 to 20 feet for the antenna and lightning rod.

   Technology is important, but our ecologic system is most important. Without it, we have nothing. There is a question about health and safety issues regarding cell towers, and it is an important public health issue which requires attention.

   It would seem to me that the county needs to develop long-term planning for the siting of cellular towers. This is best done through a collaborative effort involving all parties interested in the issue--public and private.

   An appeal, which requires a $125 fee, must show that the county has erred in its decision regarding environmental determination, how it has harmed those individuals and what the county must do to rectify the situation.

Diane Johnson, Woodinville