Residents say not in my backyard to cell tower

March 9, 2010 5:14:48 PM PST
There is concern over a new cell phone tower that may be going up in one Fort Bend County neighborhood. Homeowners say they are not just worried about the tower being an eyesore, but are concerned about possible health risks it may bring.

The tower is going up in the New Territory subdivision off Homeward Way near Amberly Way. It's not too far away from the Sugar Land Airport.

What once was proposed for 120 feet has already been scaled back to about 100 due to the close proximity to the airport. Still residents who live nearby are saying, 'Not in my backyard.'

New Territory homeowner Jagi Chandnani is circulating a petition, hoping to stop what could soon be built just beyond his back fence.

"I question that decision. Why here? Why here," said Chandnani.

T-Mobile produced photo simulations of the cell phone tower that it wants to build on the northeast edge of New Territory. It would not be an old-style tower with multiple antennae mounted for all to see, instead we're told it would look much more like a tall brown pole with the antennae hidden inside.

"What we're trying to do is make the pole blend in better with the surroundings," said Shawn St. John of T-Mobile. No matter the color or style, those opposed still say at 90-100 feet tall, it would loom over the homes here.

"It will definitely de-value our property values," said homeowner Kelley Paige.

While homeowners are worried about property values, at study commissioned for the Houston area by T-Mobile found cell towers generally have no negative effect on a home's market value. In addition, a T-Mobile spokesperson says another study here found no harmful health effects from the radio waves emitted by the tower. They'd be just one percent of what the FCC allows and we're told that limit has a significant safety margin built in.

"The FCC standard that's set is 50 times what the international medical community considers to be a safe level," said St. John.

Still some homeowners are nervous.

"How many things are out there that the FDA or FCC tells us it's OK, then a few years down the line you find out that it's not OK?" asked Chandnani.

T-Mobile says it wants to build the tower to fix a coverage gap which New Territory customers have complained about. They say it's the only way to fix the problem.

The board of the New Territory Homeowner's Association is set to vote on this project moving forward on Monday night in the neighborhood. The board president says no decision so far has been made.

You can read more about the cell phone tower and the fight to stop it by clicking on the links in the Related Links section above.


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