Verizon Wireless hopes to build a telecommunications facility next to the Fort Collins, Colo., property’s maintenance building, which would include a tower designed to resemble a tree. Many residents voiced their opposition to the plan at a neighborhood meeting.
Homeowners around Southridge Golf Course in Fort Collins, Colo., are raising concerns over a proposal to place a cell phone tower along the course’s 15th fairway, the Fort Collins-based Coloradoan reported.
Verizon Wireless has proposed building a telecommunications facility next to a golf course maintenance building that would include a tower and ground-level equipment shelter. The tower would be 55 feet tall and designed to resemble a pine tree, the Coloradoan reported.
The idea has drawn the ire of many neighbors, who worry the structure would ruin their views and reduce their property values, the Coloradoan reported.
“It could have a cascading effect on values throughout the neighborhood,” said resident Walter Gollwitzer. “I just don’t see the need for this.”
Gollwitzer and dozens of other area residents attended a neighborhood meeting on the project on February 10. The informational meeting had to be moved from a modular building on the property to the church’s sanctuary to accommodate the size of the crowd, the Coloradoan reported.
Representatives of Verizon said the tower was needed to improved cell phone coverage and capacity in the area. With so many residents using cell phones and other wireless devices to handle data, local service can be spotty and slow, the Coloradoan reported.
Becky Siskowski of Centerline Solutions, which sites and builds towers for telecommunications companies, told the crowd she reviewed several potential sites in the area before selecting the golf course. The location would meet Verizon’s technical requirements to enhance local coverage and the city’s regulations for locating telecommunications facilities, she said.
Residents raised concerns about potential health risks from the tower’s radio-frequency emissions. Tower opponent Val White cited studies from Brazil and Israel that linked cell towers with increased cases of cancer and other health problems, the Coloradoan reported.
Regardless of whether one believes radio-frequency emissions pose a legitimate health risk, White said, the perception that it’s an issue would influence home buyers and property values, the Coloradoan reported.
Federal regulations prohibit state and local governments from weighing radio-frequency concerns when considering the location of a telecommunications facilities, said Rebecca Everette, a city planner.
There is “very little evidence to support” the idea that radio-frequency signals increase the risk of cancer and other health problems, according to the American Cancer Society website.
Some meeting participants suggested other locations, including light standards at the ball fields at Fossil Creek Community Park and the tall poles that carry power lines to the east of the golf course, the Coloradoan reported.
Neighborhood meetings are an early step in the city’s development review process. Verizon has yet to formally apply to the city to build the tower, the Coloradoan reported.
Comments from the neighborhood meeting will be considered by city staff as the proposal moves forward, said Bill Whirty, parks supervisor. “This is what we were looking for; public comments,” he said. “We as a landlord can say no to Verizon, that it’s not compatible with our golf course. But we need to still have a lot to talk about it and there’s a long way to go. It’s a process.”
If an application is submitted, the review process would include a public hearing in front of an administrative officer. Any decision could be appealed to city council. If the proposal is approved, revenue from a leasing agreement would go to Southridge. Based on lease agreements on other park properties, the city would expect to receive about $20,000 a year for the tower, Whirty said.
While several residents at the meeting said Verizon’s coverage in the area is good enough, others said they can’t use cellphones in their houses. Dr. Dan Satterwhite said he bought a signal “booster” to improve coverage in his house and has a land line. But cell calls do not come through to some rooms in his home. Other neighbors described similar issues, the Coloradoan reported.
The tower would be an unwelcome eyesore for both those living along the 15th fairway and residents whose homes look down on that stretch of golf course, Gollwitzer said. The “monopine” design proposed for the tower would not help it blend in, he said. “It’s a fake tree that doesn’t look like anything around it.”
In 2010, a proposal by AT&T to build a cell tower on Southridge was met with stiff resistance from neighbors. The idea was dropped shortly after it was lambasted during a neighborhood meeting, the Coloradoan reported.
That tower would have been built about 2,100 feet northeast of Verizon’s proposed site. Since 2010, two cell towers have been placed on private property within a mile of the golf course, the Coloradoan reported.