With the site of a 300-foot tower looming outside a window less than 200 feet away, approximately two dozen concerned neighbors along with city, county and school officials, gathered at the Brent Walker residence off Lindell Street on the west edge of Memphis on Monday evening to discuss concerns about the proposed project.
Local attorney Kevin Brown led the discussion that centered on efforts to raise public awareness about the 303-foot AMSL Lattice Antenna Tower being proposed by Wireless Investment Partnership, a St. Charles, MO firm.
“This thing is likely going up roughly 180-feet from where we are sitting right now,” said Walker.
The group shared a number of studies and reports that raised possible questions centering around health concerns related to cellular towers.
One of the most damning was information shared by Brown that originated from the US Department of Interior, which address the FCC’s environmental control over such structures, highlighting the fact that it is a communication agency not a health agency, while also noting there were definite health concerns for wildlife as the standards used by the FCC were based on 30-year old science.
Similar frustrations were shared by neighbors who had already filed requests for environmental review by the FCC.
“The packets we received from the FCC in response to our concerns seem to only be worried about protecting endangered species or Indian burial grounds and don’t appear to offer me any recourse to protect the health of my grandchildren playing in my backyard,” said Scott Westhoff.
Brown also cited an Amicus brief that had been filed on behalf of the international Association of Firefighters, highlighting health concerns created by a number of cellular towers that had been constructed on top of fire stations, with firemen living directly underneath.
Safety concerns related to ice accumulation were also addressed along with nuisance concerns related to flashing lights that will be required by the FAA.
Property values were another topic of discussion, with concerns voiced that the proposed construction would devalue neighboring property.
“In the end we are not saying this is all bad, but we definitely are concerned that it is not all good,” said Brown, who lives just down the street from the Walker residence. “We definitely believe we need to look a little deeper and ask the question of the tower owner if it couldn’t be built in a less populated area not so close to our school, and not right on top of a neighbor’s home.”
The group has scheduled a public forum to be held at the First Baptist Church of Memphis at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 3rd. It also is working on beginning to circulate a petition as well as letter writing campaigns to get the interest of local, state and federal officials.
“We are simply hoping to get the word out,” said Brown. “This impacts our community and we are hoping the community as a whole becomes interested, as a matter of principle, in the wellbeing of all your neighbors.”