Tower at school: Give it an F
As a parent with young children about to enter Rappahannock schools, I’m deeply concerned that our planning commission has approved the proposed 199-foot cell tower less than 100 feet from the high school. It is also very troubling that the school board would agree to lease its land to AT&T to build a tower that is both dangerous and ugly. The county’s comprehensive plan requires our supervisors to take both aesthetics and public safety into account when deciding whether or not to approve this application. We need to clearly think through the potential impact of the proposed tower.
Erecting this tower unnecessarily places students, faculty, staff and visitors in peril, not to mention school facilities. Cell towers can and do collapse; debris can and does fall from cell towers. (Look on YouTube for some interesting videos of cell towers collapsing if you think it’s not possible.) Our county does have cases of extreme weather, including hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, hail and severe thunderstorms, and they come from all directions.
In addition, if placed so close to the school, the tower would attract vandals and daredevils. Even though, as Ben Jones pointed out last week in this paper, supervisors are not allowed to consider the proven harmful effects of electromagnetic waves on our students and staff, they can and should consider the potential physical danger to our children and their caretakers.
This tower also would be just plain ugly. The visual impact of such a placement directly opposes our mandate to mitigate visual impact to residents. I can only imagine what it would be like to be a teenager bused every day into its shadow. It doesn’t seem like our county places a value on the scenic character of our countryside or the aesthetic sensitivities of its youth.
The county’s annual income from the tower isn’t worth the liability. If this tower goes up as planned, parents like us will seriously consider withdrawing their children from the public schools at the high school level. This would decrease the school’s enrollment and therefore state funding. You can bet that many parents’ decisions will be informed by current research on the health effects of the type of electromagnetic waves emitted from the tower. I believe that the tower would end up being a financial liability rather than a benefit.
I’m sure we can have excellent cell phone coverage in our county without it. Stopping the rush to approval can only yield a better proposal in the future. Has AT&T looked at any sites on the north side of U.S. 211, nestled in the mountainside, or other area properties that are a safe distance away from the school?
I urge our supervisors to exercise their civic duty by voting against the proposed cell tower at the high school. The school board can and should revisit and reject its decision to use school property as the site of a cell tower. Rachel Bynum
Sperryville public is not given the chance to consider pertinent information.
Second, in response to our inquiry whether eight-foot platforms at the top of the cell towers could be used instead of the proposed 12-foot platforms, AT&T replied that eight-foot towers might be a possible concession. These smaller platforms would reduce the mass at the top of the cell towers, thereby somewhat reducing the visual impact.
However, with the exception of Gary Light, the commissioners were not willing to investigate the feasibility of eightfoot platforms under the premise that they did not want to “micromanage” AT&T. During the meeting, several commissioners commiserated with Woodward Road residents’ complaints that the cell tower would be an obtrusive eyesore in an otherwise pristine setting. Those sentiments now feel rather insincere given the planning commission disregarding a possible way to lessen the cell tower’s silhouette against our rural landscape.
We thank commissioner Light for advocating during the meeting that the public be given time to review all information and that eight-foot platforms be researched. We remain quite dismayed that he stood alone on both of these issues. Ashley and Jamie Matthews
Sperryville have viewed such intrusions into the “picture” of Rappahannock County as not compatible. We have rejected such applications. What Rappahannock is and looks like is what brings people to our county.
With Sprint, although we do not have universal coverage for cell service throughout the county, we do have compliance with the objective of maintaining the “picture.” The rejection of Sprint’s original application didn’t keep us from having service. Sprint worked with us to blend in. High-speed Internet service to some in the county followed.
With AT&T, we still will not have universal coverage for cell service throughout the county. A good portion of those who will get coverage from AT&T already get it from Sprint. With AT&T, we will still not have widespread access to high-speed Internet.
But with AT&T we will change the “picture.” AT&T isn’t interested in blending in.
If we reject the additional applications as they come in, we can protect the features of our skyline. It is the natural, unspoiled nature of that skyline as seen from most any point in Rappahannock County that is a major attraction. Visitors come to experience and enjoy the county and spend their money. Every day, you can see people get out of their vehicles to take pictures of our “clean” skyline.
Two-hundred-foot naked towers, whether built by AT&T or someone else, mar one of the very things that draw people to us.
We are losing the overall sense that everyone has when they come here. It is that sense that they have entered a special, more natural, less despoiled piece of earth than that which surrounds us in the neighboring counties. Tim and Mary Lou Pagano