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AT&T’s Silent Balloon Test Leaves Residents with Unanswered Questions

Early last month AT&T sent a letter to the City of College Park telling them its plan for a balloon test in the east end of Odessa Street in Sunnyside area. The balloon test was part of AT&T’s plan to install a 125 ft cell tower in a parcel owned by the City.

In the letter to the City, AT&T wrote:

As part of its site evaluation, AT&T will conduct a balloon test and visual impact survey in order to assess the visual impact from the proposed monopole, AT&T will fly a large red balloon from the proposed location at a height of 125’   While the balloon is flying, photos will be taken from multiple vantage points and AT&T will use those photos to analyze and evaluate the visual impact from the proposed monopole. Weather permitting, AT&T is hoping to fly the balloon during the week of March 28, 2011.  The test balloon will be raised at approximately 8:30 AM and remain flying for approximately 3 hours.

AT&T’s consultant Douglas Hebard later told the City that balloon test did take place on March 28, but I doubt anybody actually saw the balloons. Partly because the test was performed during the day time when most residents were at work, and most importantly nobody knew on which day the test would happen. AT&T said it also sent the letter to residents living near the proposed site.

AT&T is saying it will conduct another balloon test and announce the date of the second test at the NCPCA meeting on this Thursday.

AT&T’s plan to build proposed tower stirred a whole bunch of questions among local residents. Later, I compiled and sent these questions to AT&T’s representatives overseeing the project. True, AT&T’s representatives will be coming to this Thursday’s meeting, but many residents won’t be able to make the meeting and thus are curious to know more about the planned installation. I sent these questions about two weeks ago, but so far, I haven’t received  any response. Here are the questions I sent to AT&T:

  • Who is responsible for looking into and providing residents with the environmental and residential and business and cost impacts of this proposal?
  • Does it interfere in anyway with the oldest operating airport in the world communications and are they aware of the proposal?
  • Will it interfere with other wireless networks such as cable / other phone providers etc?
  • Are there any costs and/or revenue associated with this?
  • Where in the City park is the cell phone tower planned to be built? Will it be built on the east end of the park that is farthest from residents’ homes, or will it be built on the west end of the park that is closest to residents’ homes? Will it be built on the south end of the park that is closest to the Beltway (I-495), or will it be built on the north end of the park that is closest to residents’ homes?
  • What is the distance from the planned cell phone tower location to the closest residence (on either side of the Beltway)?
  • The property the cell phone tower is planned to be built on is a beautiful wooded park. When the cell phone tower is built, how will AT&T ensure that workers will not cut down trees and foliage unnecessarily?
  • Will AT&T guarantee that no clear-cutting will be done from the park entrance to the site of the cell phone tower? 
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