Poles Apart in Whine Country

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This week, Verizon will again approach the Sonoma Planning Commission regarding the installation of three, 25-foot small cell poles. The small cells will improve 4G “wireless voice and data coverage to the surrounding area,” specifically in the downtown. Earlier hearings on the matter produced requests for a redesign of the antennas and elicited strong opposition from some residents, reported the Sonoma Index-Tribune.

Per requests from commissioners, CBR Group, handling engineering for Verizon, has created designs more compatible with “Sonoma’s existing light pole theme.” The small cells will use twin-bulb style historic street lights and will be painted green. Additionally, siting of the small cells will change to areas where no poles currently exist, according to the Index-Tribune.

The project will also fill a redundancy gap for Verizon. In June, Sonoma lost internet service for nearly a full day when a tree limb fell on a fiber optics line. However, residents responded with skepticism over the project, questioning the need for improved service. “It has been proven by the city’s own hired [RF] analyst, that there is ‘no significant gap in coverage’ in the city,” said resident Lin Marie deVincent.

“[We] would rather have the towers look like what they are – dangerous, powerful, volatile cancer-causing electronics,” added deVincent. “Instead they are disguised as mild-mannered street lamps.”

The public also voiced concerns over the emission of high-frequency radio waves. Regarding health-related worries, deVincent said, “Just don’t stand under the light too long, you will be absorbing damaging radiation. Any bee or butterfly that decides to land on them will suffer an early death.”

September 11, 2019

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