Residents Question Water Tower Antennas and Science

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During its monthly meeting last week, the York (ME) Water District Board of Trustees (YWD) considered a request from AT&T to install six antennas atop a 65-foot high water tank, located in a residential neighborhood. SeacoastOnline reported that residents oppose the antenna and the accompanying propane tank and generator, citing safety, noise, and property value concerns.

Sixty-two residents signed a letter outlining concerns, read during the meeting by Wendy Roberts. “Some neighbors are less than 100 feet from the water tower,” read Roberts. “Given that the science on the health effects of exposure to radiation from cell antennas is not yet well researched, we are concerned about the well-being of our families, including many children in this area.”

Residents asked the board to hire an independent third party to perform a study on “environmental impact, real estate values, and health effects of the low-intensity non-ionizing radiation.” The letter concluded with a request that the board “delay voting on this proposal until further discussion and studies of the impact the proposal could have on our neighborhood are done,” reported SeacoastOnline.

In a letter supporting the antennas, Chris Balentine, chief of the York Village Fire Department, wrote that the project would provide access to the AT&T FirstNet emergency responder system. “To have workable communications is vital,” wrote Balentine. “With the proposed enhancements at the York Heights location for cell phone usage, we would likely enjoy better coverage once the project is completed. This represents a significant opportunity for us [that] we should strive to accomplish.”

One resident present said he was “totally in favor of the project.” Joe Goldstein reminded the board of the radiation specialist [Dan Haes], who testified at the September 1 informational session. Haes said more harm was likely to be caused by proximity to a cell phone than by the proposed cell antennas.

Roberts retorted, “in science, we say the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” meaning “a negative result may not be as informative as everyone may think.”

According to YWD Superintendent Don Neumann, the deal with AT&T would generate $36,000-per-year for five years. If the YWD board approves the application, it will go on to the Town Planning and Zoning Boards.

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