Neighborhood associations upset about cell towers proposed for their community

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - With more people relying on Smart phones and tablets there is a need for more cell towers, but many Tucson residents are upset over proposed AT&T towers they fell will be located too close to home.

At least three neighborhood associations have banded together to take a strong message to city council this week, outlining their concerns.

Residents from the Cabrini, Julia Keen, and Santa Rita Neighborhood Associations have been gathering petitions and plan to attend the city council meeting on Tuesday night, to speak their mind.

Marc Haberman with Neighbors for Safer Wireless Technology was upset after finding out a 65-foot tall cell tower was going to be planted right across the street from him, at the St. Francis Cabrini Church on Presidio Street, near Country Club.

The City Zoning officer even decided in favor of the neighborhood and recommended that Mayor and Council deny the application for several reasons.

City zoning documents indicate, the zoning officer felt the cell tower would lead to a negative visual impact for the community.  Even though it would be disguised as a palm tree, and AT&T officials planned to plant three real palm trees around it, the report stated that the trees would block resident's views of the Catalina Mountains.

The report also cited concerns about safety.  The zoning officer felt cell towers can be lightning rods and being so close to homes created a big concern of lightning strikes in the neighborhood.

Zoning documents indicated the closest home is just 300 feet away from the proposed cell tower.

Noise was also listed as a concern in the document.  Residents said the cooling units around the cell towers would be very loud and have to be running day and night.

Many local churches and businesses are making tens of thousands of dollars a year by renting out space to cell tower companies.

City officials said there were about 200 cell towers located in the city of Tucson.  37 of them were on city property and helped generate $450,000 in revenue that went into the city's general fund.

Despite the zoning officer's recommendation, city leaders could choose to accept AT&T's application.  Residents planned to attend the meeting and voice their concerns and encourage city leaders to vote against the application.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for AT&T stated they complied with strict FCC health and safety guidelines.  She said AT&T had invested about $80 Million in the Tucson community in the last three years, and pointed out that there was a need for more cell towers because data traffic had increased by 30% nationwide.

Karen Uhlich, the councilwoman representing the neighborhoods where these proposed cell towers would be installed declined our request for an interview, saying she would be happy to talk to us after the city council meeting.

The meeting takes place at City Hall on Tuesday evening.

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