Residents Oppose Verizon Plans for ‘Fake Charlie Brown Tree’

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We may be heading into the holiday season, but there are no good tidings of great joy coming from residents of Salem’s Morningside neighborhood. The Oregon-based townspeople oppose Verizon’s plans to build a 75-foot tower on Bethany’s Baptist’s Church lot, despite the wireless giant’s promises to disguise it.  A resident who submitted written testimony said that “This fake Charlie Brown tree will not be stealth in any sense of the term.”

The Statesman Journal reported that residents not only are concerned about their own property values, but the town’s law in residential areas limits structures to a maximum height of 50 feet. Verizon petitioned in April asking for a zoning exception to build at 75 feet, due to a coverage gap in the area. Pamela Cole, Salem’s assistant city planner, told the Journal the rule was made so “cell towers don’t stick out in residential areas.”   

Last month’s public hearing resulted in 11 neighbors voicing objections to the tower, with no one speaking for it. One resident, according to the Journal, said that there was no gap in coverage and that the neighborhood couldn’t afford property declines because “houses in the Morningside neighborhood aren’t high-end in the first place.” Additionally, more than 70 neighbors signed a petition in opposition, also voicing concerns about radiation and noise.

Verizon said that “it will operate within city standards for noise and FCC standards for health and safety,” the Journal noted, and also submitted three plan ideas, two for a tree-like structure and one that looks like a bell tower.

While city staffers are recommending that the zoning exception be approved, a hearings officer will make the final decision next week.

October 21, 2016

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