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Category: Wireless

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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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? 

AT&T Plans to Install Cell Phone Tower in Sunnyside

Palco Pl, College Park, MD 20740

Proposed Cell Phone Tower in Sunnyside

AT&T is proposing to build a 125 ft cell phone tower on the City property at the east end of Odessa Road in Sunnyside. Please see the map below.

AT&T attorney Gregory E. Rapisarda, Esq. and other representatives will make a presentation at its meeting on April 14th, at the North College Park Citizens Association (NCPCA).

They will discuss AT&T’s proposed project and address questions and concerns about how AT&T seeks to improve its wireless services in the area.

Though AT&T has been marketing the tower to boost cell phone reception in North College Park, there have been concerns from residents elsewhere about the health risks caused by these cell towers.

The World Health Organization has said there are no established adverse health effects from cell phone base towers, but also recommended more research be conducted.

This piece of property is in the backyards of maybe 10 families.  A resident living  in that area is already furious about a piece of mail relating to this tower she had just received from AT&T.  I won’t be surprised that there are a many other residents sharing the same concern.

If you’re concerned about the proposed tower or want to find about it from the AT&T representative, please attend at the April 14th meeting.

If you’ll like to get more information on phone services, then please use this link.

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