Residents support, protest Tucson cell towers

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - More and more people are doing more and more with their phones, and that has some neighborhoods divided as more cell phone towers go up around Tucson.

The proposed locations are 22nd and 25th Street in the Santa Rita neighborhood, south of downtown .

Many residents are against these towers while others welcome them as a source of income.

Representatives from AT&T will be at the public hearing to answer questions. Many residents also plan to protest these cell towers.

City officials say there are approximately 200 cell phone towers within city limits, 37 of them located on city property.

These towers generate close to $450,000 each year, which is money that goes into the general fund.

Many local businesses, residents and non-profits are also profiting from these towers, but some are fighting back, citing major concerns.

There is a tower on St. Francis Cabrini Church property, just a few hundred feet away from Marc Haberman's house.

"They are targeting schools and churches which have the need for money that is offered," said Haberman, a Cabrini Neighborhood Association member.

Many schools and churches are willing partners with wireless companies. The Catholic Diocese of Tucson has at least a half dozen churches with cell towers planted on property. Staff say the money goes to each individual parish.

There's a lot of revenue at stake. Staff at an undisclosed Lutheran church say they're raking in more than $2,700 a month through two cell phone towers on their property.

They're disguised as palm trees, crosses and even saguaros.

"It creates a blight against the sky," said Elizabeth Kelley with the Electromagnetic Safety Alliance. "The World Health organization in 2011 determined electromagnetic fields and radio frequency cause two types of cancer."

The Cabrini Neighborhood Association is celebrating a victory after a zoning officer recommended to deny their request to put up a cell tower at this church. It's a big victory for a small neighborhood association. They gathered more than 300 signatures and put up a fight.

"We were elated, really surprised. Could not believe it really happened," Haberman said.

"It's sight, it's sound, it's health," said concerned resident David Fossdal. "It's not appropriate in this neighborhood."

Tonight an AT&T spokeswoman said they comply with strict FCC health and safety regulations.

The company has invested $80 million in Tucson in the last three years. They need more cell towers here because data traffic has increased by 30 percent nationwide.

AT&T officials hope city council will still approve their request despite the denial from the zoning officer.

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