TMCNet:  Dallas cell tower proposal a concern

[February 21, 2013]

Dallas cell tower proposal a concern

DALLAS TWP., Feb 21, 2013 (The Citizens' Voice - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- More students at Misericordia University means more cellphones and computers -- and the need to provide adequate service for them.

As a result, Verizon Wireless wants to construct a 125-foot high cell tower on property leased from Anthony Banta behind the Twin Stacks Center on Route 415 in Dallas Borough. The company is seeking conditional use from borough council to erect a tower and equipment shelter at 1100 Twin Stacks Drive. A second hearing was held Wednesday at Misericordia; the first took place Jan. 16.


The proposed tower would serve Verizon customers on the state Route 415 corridor -- but particularly students at Misericordia University, according to Andrew Petersohn of dBm Engineering, representing Verizon.

He said a new tower is necessary to serve customers during peak hours. Although he wouldn't divulge specifics about dropped calls and Internet service, Petersohn did say there is a slowdown and within a year or two, users won't be able to connect.

That's why Verizon Wireless wants to build the tower by May.

"They know by June, July there will be a real problem here," Petersohn said.

But residents who live in developed areas behind Twin Stacks are apprehensive. Heather Fazzi said the cell tower would be 125 feet from the building she lives in, and that's "too close for comfort." Martin Straigis, who lives "catty-corner" to the proposed site, said his wife is five months pregnant with their first child and wanted to know if studies had been done on the effect of radio-frequency emissions on babies and unborn children.

"I don't see many cell towers in residential areas, so I'm kind of concerned," he said.

Petersohn said there are no credible studies to show an adverse link between proximity to a cell tower and adverse health effects.

Resident Lynn Jumper asked about the cell tower's effects on property values, but Verizon's attorney Richard Williams said it is not the company's burden to prove whether it would be detrimental. Dallas Borough solicitor Jeffrey Malak said it will be up to opponents to make their case.

Project Manager Jim Rogers and Petersohn said they chose the Twin Stacks site because existing cell towers and other likely sites for Verizon's antennae are already full. Under Dallas Borough's zoning ordinance, cell towers are permitted as a conditional use in industrial zones. Otherwise Verizon would have to go before a zoning board for a variance, which Rogers said is a "very difficult process." Councilman Robert Edgerton said it would make sense, since Misericordia needs the cell tower most, to build it on campus.

Rogers said Misericordia was the first place Verizon tried, but the university wouldn't make a deal with the company.

Opponents will have the opportunity to make their cases at the continuation of the hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 12 on the third floor of the Bevevino Library at Misericordia.

After that, both sides will present summaries of the case before council makes a decision, Malak said.

eskrapits@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2072 ___ (c)2013 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Visit The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) at citizensvoice.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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