Verizon wants to build a 120-foot tower on land near the intersection of Bodenhamer and Green Hill Roads in rural Lane County, OR. However a county rule may stop the wireless giant from doing so.
Lane County adopted a rule in 2005, that says towers can’t be built within 1,200 feet of residences or schools without the owner’s approval. And, in this case, the owners aren’t on board.
The Register-Guard reported that Kevin and Jill Ankeny are one of two homeowners within 1,200 feet of the proposed tower. They and other nearby residents cite concerns such as health risks, migratory bird issues and aesthetics as reasons that they don’t want the tower.
Verizon, however, isn’t going down without a fight. A lawyer for Verizon, Michael Connors, sent the county a letter in May, saying the rule “is overly burdensome and unusual.” He said that the rule may violate federal law and said that “the county’s rule was adopted because of health concerns about electromagnetic radiation, even though federal law explicitly prohibits local governments from doing that. And the rule has the net effect of prohibiting wireless service in the area, because there are no other feasible alternatives to the proposal.”
Residents told The Register-Guard that there are no cell service issues in the area, but the engineer who applied for the application said that “the new tower would help lower usage of an existing tower at the Eugene Airport” and “will help create a quality network that will have lower dropped calls and access failures with good voice and data quality.”
Keir Miller, Lane County’s senior planner, told The Register-Guard that “he expects Verizon’s application to be turned down by county staff and a hearings official because it violates existing county rules.” If this happens, the conflict would be turned over to the Lane County Board of Commissioners or the Oregon State Land Use Board of Appeals. Miller also said that Verizon has not “seen the evidence to demonstrate that their coverage area can’t be met with alternative sites.”