Despite protests from area residents, Windward, Hawaii planning commissioners yesterday voted 4 – 1 in favor of a 180-foot AT&T monopole. A second AT&T tower, however, was denied.
The Windward Planning Commission met via webinar Thursday to review both AT&T tower proposals that were denied during its last meeting in March. According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, the now approved monopole was previously denied because residents voiced concerns about radiation and the close proximity to neighboring homes and a school.
Andrew Tomlinson, site acquisition specialist for AT&T, testified before the commission. “Principally, the commission’s hearing violates federal law,” Tomlinson said. “During the previous hearing for the use permit application, the emotional distress expressed by public testifiers was grounded solely in their fear of radio frequency emissions from the proposed monopole. This fear is not grounded in fact.”
Unable to attend the meeting and wanting their voices heard, residents gathered outside the building where the Planning Commission typically conducts meetings to protest the towers.
Activist and protestor, Gene Tamashiro, told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald the commission failed the public by not letting them testify. He also warned that AT&T has no right to build towers that the public has not agreed to.
“We’ve done our due diligence,” Tamashiro said. “If they put that tower up, we have the lawful right to take that tower down.”
The planning commission, however, held a different opinion. “There’s been ample opportunity, both in person and in writing, for members of the public to make their opinion very well known to all of us,” said Commissioner Joseph Clarkson. “And I see little chance that a future public hearing is going to add something new to our consideration of this matter.”
“We know what the public thinks and how they feel. We’re going to hear it again and again for every cell tower,” said Commission Vice Chairman John Replogle. “And it’s my understanding that we legally can’t deny this, if the pole’s not going to fall over.”
According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, the planning commission did uphold its March decision to deny the second AT&T tower proposal. Citing the proposed sites’ proximity to a playground, the commission recommended AT&T find another location and submit revised plans.