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Sunnyside Residents Express Concerns over Proposed AT&T Cell Tower

AT&T’s attorney Greg Rapisarda at NCPCA’s April 2011 meeting

A group of Sunnyside residents expressed concerns over AT&T’s plan to build a 120 ft cell tower in their neighborhood.

AT&T’s attorney Gregory Rapisarda was at NCPCA’s April 2011 meeting to introduce the plan to north College Park’s residents.  According to the plan, AT&T will install the tower at the end of the Odessa Road. Please see the proposed site plan at the end of this post.

“AT&T has a need to provide and improve its wireless services in the College Park area.”– said Mr. Rapisarda to the residents as the primary reason to install the tower.

But that failed to convince some dozen or so Sunnyside residents present at the meeting. Signs of worries were quite visible on the faces of these residents.

Couldn’t you find another place to put this huge tower? It’ll be quite an eyesore” – commented one resident.

Mr. Rapisarda said AT&T identified and evaluated several potential co-location opportunities, including (1) the US Department of Agriculture building, (2) the 300 State Police tower that is approximately 1/2 mile away, (3) a 155′ Verizon tower approximately 1/2 away, and (4) a rooftop at the Sterling Building. 

In each case, either the radio frequency engineers concluded that those locations would create significant overlap with existing coverage and would not allow AT&T to meet its coverage objectives or the landowner was unwilling or unable to lease space.” – said Mr. Rapisarda explaining why his company needs the tower to be placed in the proposed location.

But our service is just fine” said a resident. “And I have Verizon” – said another resident.

And what about the health effect of the tower?” – asked one concerned nearby resident.

There is absolutely none” – answered back Mr. Rapisarda, noting his references from WHO and American Cancer Society.

I think the jury is still out there..” – answered the resident, pointing to the ongoing debate on the issue.

Residents asked how much AT&T would be paying the City as a rent in exchange of using the proposed City owned property.

Sorry, this is a confidential matter. I cannot disclose that figure” – said Mr. Rapisarda.

Hmm, not quite; some information about AT&T’s negotiation with the City already leaked out earlier in an online listserv discussion, where District 1 Council member Patrick Wojahn revealed initial AT&T offering as less than $2000/month. When this was mentioned in the meeting, one resident charged “They (city leaders) sold us out for $1,200?”, according to this Patch report.

Though members did not take any position on the proposed tower at the end of the discussion, I was very happy to see and meet so many residents from Sunnyside in the meeting.

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