Noisy Tower By the Lake Draws an Earful

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Some residents in the New Jersey Village on the Lake neighborhood are not pleased with the constant humming/buzzing sound emitted from a nearby small cell, and a group has been actively trying to get the infrastructure removed for four years. “It’s like nails on a chalkboard,” resident Charles Miller said. The noise pollution is especially harmful in the summer, keeping residents from opening windows or spending time in their backyards, reported the Lake Oswego Review

According to neighbor Mary Jo Day, the small cell just popped up one day. “The city didn’t even know about it,” she said.

According to Anthony Hooper, deputy city manager, T-Mobile’s equipment was placed on the PGE pole without the city’s permission. “T-Mobile’s facility does not have the approvals required by local ordinance, and the City does not know why T-Mobile elected not to obtain the required approvals,” Hooper said in an email to the Review. “Federal law limits local authority to prohibit wireless infrastructure, and the City did not have standards and procedures at the time that would have required T-Mobile to install an alternative site.” 

Prior to 2019, the city did not have an ordinance in place to protect the rights-of-way; the city used individual franchise agreements with utility providers instead. According to the city’s website, another ordinance was passed “that formalizes the design and placement standards of wireless facilities in the public right-of-way.”

Hooper added that once the ordinance was in place, the city began working with T-Mobile to bring the facility up to code, rather than demanding its removal. “Requiring removal at that time would temporarily reduce wireless service to the neighborhood without assurance that T-Mobile would be required to evaluate different alternatives upon removal,” added Hooper. 

However, the noise persists, and neighbors claim there’s been a lack of communication from the city, PGE, and T-Mobile. Of the facility, Miller said, “It isn’t that it’s there that angers us, it’s that we complained about the noise and in that complaint, we discovered that it’s not supposed to be there.”

According to Hooper, T-Mobile, and Crown Castle, the infrastructure vendor, are assessing alternative sites and equipment configurations “to relocate and/or streamline the design of the facility.” The city will evaluate the analysis required under the new standards and “work toward a final long-term solution,” Hooper said. “The City anticipates a decision later this summer or early fall.”

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