Recent State Law Cited in Tower Approval in Wichita
Despite numerous resident complaints, the Planning Commission voted in favor of a 100-foot cell tower for the Riverside neighborhood of Wichita, KS, reported The Wichita Eagle.One of the main reasons cited for the consent to build, was Kansas State House Bill 2131, passed in mid-2016.
During the planning meeting, Commissioners were swayed by the law prohibiting the commission from legally considering most technical, environmental or historical impacts when evaluating cell tower proposals, Principal Planner Dave Yearout told The Eagle.
Commissioner Chuck Warren, in favor of the tower, said, “Part of growth [is] we’re a nation that survives on towers because we have cell phones and we’re upset if we don’t have coverage.”
Although the decision by the Planning Commission technically approves the project, proposed by APC Towers and T-Mobile, residents can still appeal the verdict to the City Council.
According to Greg Ferris, a former City Council member representing the applicants, “There’s never been a wireless carrier who ever built a facility they didn’t need.”
However, residents claim the opposite and believe cell reception is fine. They also cited additional concerns including the tower being an “ugly addition to their skyline,” potentially interfering with historic and Native American sites, and questioning whether a more suitable location could be identified.
Commissioner David Foster, the only voter opposed to the tower, noted during the meeting, “What I don’t see…is the concept: does a cell tower fit in the neighborhood?” I think the neighbors that have taken time to come here today have clearly demonstrated this does not.”