Reston Parents Say ‘No’ to ‘Camo’ Tower Siting at School

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Parents are mobilizing to stop a cell tower from being located at an elementary school in Reston, VA. Milestone Communications wants to erect a 138-foot monopole.

Five carriers would locate antennas on the pole to fill-in coverage gaps, reports Reston Now. The pole, to be disguised as a tree, would be on a 2,500-square-foot area surrounded by an 8-foot fence. Schools and parks are good tower locations because they often have existing structures, like light poles, in place, according to Milestone.

Fairfax County Public Schools says cell phone towers located on school grounds are safe. Parents in the Crossfield Elementary area don’t think so; they’re closing in on 600 signatures to a petition and plan to testify at a Fairfax County government hearing Wednesday night. 

Reston-based Milestone withdrew a similar application in 2013, due to residents’ protests, according to the account. Residents call the proposed tower an “eyesore” even when disguised and cite their concern about lowered property values when sited near elementary schools, according to the petition.

They also question whether the tower is needed, stating in the petition “a significant gap in coverage” does not exist in the area. “Eighty-two towers are active within a 4-mile radius of the site — and poor cell reception within the school and in nearby homes can be fixed with inexpensive signal boosters.”

Milestone leases space on its poles to wireless carriers; 40 percent of the money goes to the school system, according to the account. Schools receive $25,000 for each new tower built and $5,000 from each carrier that leases tower space. The county school system has made more than $4 million from the deals over the last few years, according to Fairfax County Public Schools.

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