In February, AT&T applied for a permit to build a 180-foot monopole on agricultural land in Kurtistown, reported the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. Now, residents of the small community are fighting the project since the intended site is near 20 homes plus the Kamehameha Schools campus.
Resident Prescott Ellwood said of the tower, “This is gonna be huge. It’s going to be the biggest thing on the island. You’ll be able to see it from everywhere.” The small community is comprised of working-class farmers and retirees, some who’ve lived on the land for generations. The community, along with hundreds of residents from nearby towns, have posted signs opposing the project and signed a petition to stop the tower from happening.
The Tribune-Herald reported that homeowners are concerned that the tower will devastate property values and create health risks. “People automatically think ‘cancer’ when they hear about a cell tower,” said resident Anna Maneja.
“This is an agricultural lot,” Maneja added. “People raise animals here; we have a farm here. For them to put some huge tower up there, we can’t just move away.”
The community is also accusing AT&T of missteps regarding the communication of the project. AT&T only submitted notifications about the tower to landowners, not renters, which potentially left about half the community in the dark and violates state laws, according to Ellwood. The community is also taking issue with a posted notice about the project. The sign was placed not on a public road, which is required by law, but on a corner of the private road encircling the community, where few residents would see it, reported the Tribune-Herald.
On Thursday, the Windward Planning Commission commission decides whether to grant AT&T its use permit. Ellwood and dozens of community members will plan to attend the meeting to protest the project.