Tempers Flare Over Tower Proposed Near School, Ripon Case Cited Again

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In 2017, Verizon Wireless proposed a 120-foot monopine 300 feet from an elementary school, and Clark County Community Development presented a report with a foreshadowing warning, reported The Columbian. The prediction was that although “there is no code requirement for spacing from schools, this may [elicit] a response from the neighbors.”

As Acom Consulting prepares to submit a conditional use permit application to the county on Verizon’s behalf, the prediction came true: a growing number of parents are voicing concerns about the potential for harmful health effects from the tower. 

Parents have sent letters, created a Facebook group, and an online petition which already has over 868 signatures. They’ve also held protests near the proposed site, left negative reviews regarding the property owner’s business, and shown up at public meetings, according to The Columbian.

According to Verizon spokeswoman Heidi Flato, the tower will improve voice and data services within a 1.5-mile radius. Currently, the area surrounding the school offers customers poor or no service. Flato said the company “takes very seriously the health and safety of our employees and customers, and of all residents in the communities we serve,” and that the tower plans meet FCC safety standards. She added: “Based on that research, federal agencies have concluded that equipment that complies with the safety standards poses no known health risks.”

 However, at a recent public meeting, tensions were high. Acom had a physicist, Andrew Thatcher speak regarding the energy of the RF waves emitted from the antennas. He said the RF would be too low to break chemical bonds in the body or disrupt DNA.

“There is zero uncertainty about whether this can cause cancer or not,” Thatcher said. “We’re taking an objective look at the science, and it’s really an easy call.”

Attendees accused Acom’s site acquisition specialist, Reid Stewart, of being “flippant” and the landowner accused those opposing the tower of “bullying” his family. The Columbian mentioned the report from the elementary school in Ripon, California, and parents questioned: “why take the chance?” (see Inside Towers coverage on the case)

Parents recommend Verizon move the tower location at least 1,500 feet away from the school. However, this will not bring service where it’s needed, according to the telecom. Stewart plans to submit an application within 90 days to begin the review by the county via a public process.

 “If I meet the code requirements of the county, there’s not much they can do to stop this,” Stewart said. He added that he has a 100 percent success rate on land-use applications for towers.

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