Ashland Residents Debate New AT&T Small Cell Proposal

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In the midst of ongoing community debate about new small cell towers, Ashland, OR residents met Monday night to discuss a second proposal from telecom company SmartLink and AT&T. SmartLink previously notified residents via letter that AT&T is considering a new 105-foot small cell facility that would be adjacent to the Southern Oregon University Raider Stadium.

SOU Director of Community and Media Relations Joe Mosley said there are two active cell tower proposals, involving the university, reported KTVL-TV.

Ashland Planning Commission approved Verizon to put an antenna on top of their science building. He said Verizon can begin installation whenever its construction plan allows it.

A second request for a cell tower was submitted by AT&T, looking to place one near their football field. Mosley said SOU has given AT&T authorization to begin the approval process, but a lease has not yet been signed.  

With both proposals, there has been strong opposition from a group of Ashland residents. Critics claim the new cell tower would pose health risks to the community, wildlife and vegetation. Kelly Marcotulli with Oregon for Safer Technology lives two to three blocks away from the proposed location. She said she is electro-sensitive and feels ill when she is around technology, according to reported KTVL-TV.

In response, the university said they would not allow installation if it believed it posed any health risks to students and staff. “Studies by the American Cancer Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all the leading agencies have found that there is no critical link between cell towers and any ill effects,” Mosley said. “The health of our students and employees is one of our very top priorities on campus. We do everything we can to look out for their health and we are going in that direction on this issue.”

As many are concerned about 5G technology, Mosley said the approved Verizon plan and the pending AT&T plan will use present 3G and 4G services. He said SOU did a survey regarding the issue last fall.

“We wanted to see, first of all, if there was a need for cell towers,” Mosley said. “Two-thirds of the respondents said coverage on campus was not adequate. We also asked if they had concerns about adding some towers on campus and, overwhelmingly, people said they had no concern.”

November 27, 2019             

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