An 'unnatural intrusion'
Concerned residents oppose cell tower at public hearing
CEDARBURG Tensions were high at a town of Cedarburg public hearing last Wednesday when the Plan Commission reviewed comments about a proposal for a new cell tower at 4628 Cedar Creek Road.
The meeting Wednesday was standing- room-only as residents voiced their concerns over the proposed 120-foot tower that would provide additional coverage for T-Mobile. The tower is currently located on a water tower in the village of Grafton, but after attempting to negotiate lower rental costs, T-Mobile would like to relocate it to the new site, a farm owned by Scott and Patricia Akerlund.
Former town board member Joe Rintelman was present, not as the District 4 alderman, but as a resident in the neighborhood and a member of COAT, Citizens Opposing Akerlund Tower.
"This unnatural intrusion will affect people's property and the use of their property in many negative ways. We will not allow lobbyists to dictate our landscape," he said.
Other citizens who live near the proposed site expressed concerns over health, aesthetics, the preservation of land, watershed and decreased property value.
Jim Leahy, an agent for Eco-Site Inc., the company that manages the tower, spoke in support of relocation to the farm, noting that the current site is not optimal due to operational logistics and cost. He also noted that their proposal is legal under the state statute, 66.0404, but said they would be willing to consider some adjustments.
Regulations, including the state statute and the Telecommunications Act of 1996, restrict local governments from regulating wireless facilities based on aesthetics or location, the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions or the question of signal strength or service quality. Leahy cited these regulations in a written statement that throws out a majority of the concerns expressed in citizens' letters.
Responding to concerns over decreased property value, Leahy stated that since health, aesthetics and location concerns would form the basis for diminished value claims, "it stands to reason a denial cannot be based on the property value issue," thus ruling those arguments out as well.
Many commenters pointed to the vagueness of the application, which may beg more questions than it answers.
"How can you make a sound decision when you don't have all the facts?" another resident asked town officials before the comment period closed.
The commission ultimately tabled the item until the May 18 meeting, but will have to decide before the 90-day review period for the application runs up.