A new 199 foot cell tower is about to be placed right near Blair High school.
Reposted with permission from Small Cells in Montgomery County
The 12 MCPS schools with cell towers are almost all lower income schools and every high school in the Downcounty Consortium (which has higher farms, minority and esol population than the rest of the County) has a tower. There are several times where cell towers were proposed and not put up because of strong opposition by parents. For example, Whitman High School, Wootton High School and Walter Johnson High School. Parents were vocal in complete opposition and the towers were halted. (Watch video above if you want to know why.)
Read the Bethesda Beat article Parents Decry Wootton Cell Tower Proposal, Principal Decides Not to Move Forward.
This is why the MCPS schools with cell towers are more often schools with higher minorities and students receiving free lunch. This is an environmental justice issue.
What Can You Do?
- Immediately get the word out to other parents and the students. They need to know.
- Hold community meetings to discuss the issue. Have the Blair PTA discuss the issue and develop an opinion. What does the student council at Blair think?
- Contact your elected officials and request an immediate halt to this tower.* (Do not take no for an answer. ) See the Sample Letter to Personalize.
- Attend the Hearing: Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission
Thursday March 5, 10am. You have to sign up to testify online. It says that online spots fill up quickly and you can start signing up 10 days in advance. “If you need assistance to complete this form,please contact staff in the Chair’s Office via email at MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org or call 301-495-4605.”
- Write and post letters publicly on parent and community list serves.
Even if they say it is a “done deal” parents have halted cell towers near their children. It can be done.
The proposed 199 foot County Tower near Blair High School is proposed to be located right next to one of the existing ones near Blair. Existing towers are about 10 feet from the baseball field and the other is less than 300 feet from the track and field.
Something that is different about this new tower vs others that have tried to locate at MCPS, is that it will be a County owned tower as part of their public safety radio system. So it goes through a different process called “Mandatory Referral” hearing at the Planning Board. Mandatory Referral is a required review by the Planning Board of government projects of a certain size. The Mandatory Referral process basically means whatever the Planning Board says, the County can ignore if they want to.
After it’s constructed, wireless companies could locate on the new pole without going through the special exception hearing process with a hearing examiner that is required when commercial wireless companies want to build new towers in Montgomery County. Once any tower is built, companies can add antennas to it later through what is called a modification which does not involve any input from the public or a hearing. It’s mostly just a permit process.
So, by the County constructing this tower, they are creating a loophole for the wireless companies. In fact wireless companies applied to locate a monopole tower in the very spot the County is proposing theirs. But after they applied it was withdrawn because it was found it didn’t comply with zoning. It was too big for the property and also less than 300 feet from homes. Now this is the same property but because it’s the County building it, they get to bypass the regulations. So far the County has not committed in writing to limiting the antennas on the tower to only public safety antennas.
See the 2017 Blair High School Tower Committee Application here.
CLEARLY the companies want to put their antennas in the area.
Meanwhile in California, parents are working hard to remove cell antennas near their schools. Please se below a banner created by parents and watch their news coverage here.
Watch the cell tower meeting at Wootton here.
* Send email to all Councilmembers — >County.Council@
— or contact one by one:
Gabe Albornoz 240-777-7959
View Staff List for Gabe Albornoz
Andrew Friedson 240-777-7828
View Staff List for Andrew Friedson
Evan Glass 240-777-7966
View Staff List for Evan Glass
Tom Hucker 240-777-7960
View Staff List for Tom Hucker
Will Jawando 240-777-7811
View Staff List for Will Jawando
Sidney Katz 240-777-7906
View Staff List for Sidney Katz
Nancy Navarro 240-777-7968
View Staff List for Nancy Navarro
Craig Rice 240-777-7955
View Staff List for Craig Rice
Hans Riemer 240-777-7964
View Staff List for Hans Riemer
Thanks to Small Cells in Montgomery County for this blog repost.