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Send Comments to Planning Board by Noon Wednesday March 4
Send to: OCEMail@montgomerycountymd.gov, Councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov, County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov, MCPChair@mncppc-mc.org. Gwen.Wright@montgomeryplanning.org, Joshua.Penn@montgomeryplanning.org
Re: Mandatory Referral 2020013 PSSM at FS 16
Dear County Executive Elrich, Members of the County Council and Planning Board Commissioners:
I’m writing to request that the application for the 199’ Macro Tower adjacent to Blair High School be withdrawn. This would be a second tower within 50 feet of the Blair campus and less than 300 feet from homes and a child care. This new tower would be on the same property as an existing tower that will remain and would be a third tower that is within 200 feet of the campus. The existing two towers that will remain have a combined 70 antennas within 200 feet of the campus. More antennas will likely be added by right to those two towers in the coming years.
The proposed third tower with at a height of 199’ can have dozens of commercial wireless antennas and other equipment added after the County constructs the tower. The construction of the tower by the County provides a loophole and allows the wireless companies to avoid the special exception/conditional use public hearing process with an objective hearing examiner, a review process that is required for new macro telecommunications towers in Montgomery County. Even though the tower would not meet the required setback and other standards, the antennas could be added by right without notice or public hearing through the permit process once the County’s tower is constructed.
There is no other school in Montgomery County with two cell towers in such close proximity. A third and oversized tower at this location would be an excessive over-concentration of wireless facilities in a small area where thousands of young people, including child care and elementary school students are gathered. This is unjustified and not equitable.
As you may know, wireless carriers previously applied to locate a 170’ tower at the same location but since the tower was not in compliance with the Zoning Ordinance and was too large for the site, the application was withdrawn. If this larger proposed tower at the same location was submitted as a special exception/conditional use it would likely be denied because it doesn’t comply with the Code.
There are numerous alternatives for the County to co-locate the seven public safety radio antennas on support structures and towers that already exist in both the immediate and adjacent areas. I urge you to co-locate the County’s antennas on one of those structures.
Thank you for your attention to this very important matter that would affect our students for many years to come. I hope you will withdraw the application and continue to support the primary mission of MCPS to provide a safe and supportive environment for the academic success of every student.
See also: Facts about the Blair High School Cell Tower