Missouri American Water has decided that AT&T can no longer locate its antennas atop the MAW water tanks, reports NewsPressNow.com. Since the current towers serve a well-traveled section of nearby Interstate 29, keeping emergency services connected, according to AT&T, is a priority. The carrier said it prefers a site in view of the water tower, but on the other side of I-29.
“Seventy percent of emergency calls are made via cell phone now, so without cell phone service, there is a risk of not being able to contact emergency services and things like that,” said St. Joseph City Planner, Zack Martin. “That’s one of the primary drivers of maintaining a tower in that area. Otherwise, that residential and commercial area would be looking at potential coverage blackouts, adding burden to towers in the surrounding area where the service probably would just not be very good.”
The Zoning Board of Adjustment granted an exception to allow placement of a telecommunications tower in the residential district, a decision that some residents say they find upsetting. Two of the concerns, property values and aesthetics, were addressed by neighbor Linda Hundley who said, “It’s going to be an eyesore. I understand the part of wanting everybody to have phone tower stuff when they’re trying to travel, but we don’t need that here. We just don’t. I’m not willing to shave off my property values to put that out there when there’s ground all along I-29,” adding, “They can put it where there’s no houses.”
Another resident worried that her grandchildren would endanger themselves by playing on the cell tower, according to the NewsPressNow.com. AT&T pointed out that the property would be properly fenced.
City Councilman Brian Myers said, “It is against federal law and against state law for someone in a decision-making capacity that is elected to use health as a reason to vote against a utility. Bottom line is cell phones are a critical utility, they’re part of our infrastructure. Citizens and first responders rely on them heavily. They certainly have to be placed in the most useful location that’s available to the company.”
The Planning Commission and the City Council are expected to reach a final decision in the coming months.