— STOP ZTA 19-07 – Contact the Montgomery County Council Today! —
Update: Tell MoCo Council: Stop ZTA 19-07. Email County Council TODAY through our Online Email Campaign: actionnetwork.org/letters/stop-zta-19-07
County Councilmember Hans Riemer has revived his 2019 proposal to let cell towers be built as close as 30 feet from our houses—on streetlights and utility poles, possibly two or more on a block. It does not correct the horrific 2018 setback of just 10 feet from homes in mixed-use zones. Despite strong resident opposition, Mr. Riemer seems eager to push this Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) through while everyone else is preoccupied by the pandemic. The Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee that he chairs voted to pass this ZTA on March 10th and now it goes to the County Council. It’s urgent to voice your concerns to the Council ASAP.
Lining our neighborhoods with small cell towers would increase climate change, reduce property values, beam radio-frequency microwave (RF/MW) radiation 24/7 into our homes -– just to name a few issues. (See details below!) A map exists of the intended plan for densification (cancel sign-in to gain access).
Even worse, in the past year, informed residents have exposed just how inept the County’s current oversight of existing wireless facilities is –– especially the antennas allowed to accumulate on top of affordable multi-family apartments without any inspections or measurements. No one, it turns out, knows for sure that the families who live directly under them are not being exposed to illegal levels of RF radiation! Please urge Mr. Riemer, the rest of the Council, and the County Executive to act immediately to end this blatant environmental injustice –– instead of rushing to inflict similar safety and health hazards on every resident in the County.
Mr. Riemer is a big fan of 5G. He apparently buys all of the telecom industry’s pro-5G advertising. However, what industry never mentions in their advertising are the many downsides to implementing 5G, including:
- 5G would be a huge new energy hog — intensifying our climate crisis. Energy experts estimate that wireless internet communication technologies could be responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, undermining our efforts to combat climate change. Many trees also would likely have to be cut down for 5G towers –– a further climate cost.
- 5G has major cyber security problems by providing millions of entry points for hackers into key utilities and infrastructure.
- 5G is designed to support 3 million wireless devices per square mile, digitizing our entire lives and monitoring behavior 24/7 with massive invasions of privacy–– a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
- The NSA reports, “Focusing predominantly on 5G technology, the implications of privacy and security are contrasted across the competing requirements of high- speed, low-latency connectivity of billions of devices…the Internet is using much data about many people in many ways, and this raises privacy concerns.”
- ZTA 19–07’s sponsors falsely suggest the pandemic has shown we need 5G, including to help wipe out the digital divide. What the pandemic has revealed is how many residents and businesses still need affordable access to safe, reliable, secure, high-speed Internet service. Improving wired connections –– that were paid for, but never delivered –– will meet that goal better than expanding wireless technology. We don’t need 5G in our neighborhoods. For equity, we need to make sure that wiring all the way to their premises for high-speed Internet is available for all residences –– including individual apartments –– and that the service is affordable for all, including businesses.
- Montgomery County passed Bill 44-20 saying that racial equity and social justice issues must be considered in all county ordinances. However, zoning legislation will not be subject to the bill until September 2021 because of a transition clause. ZTA 19-07, if passed before then, will evade such scrutiny. Such scrutiny is essential, because the County’s process for cell-tower oversight is broken –– including its failure to monitor radiation levels inside affordable, multi-family housing and other buildings it lets be used like cell towers, even when the rooftop antennas exceed FCC limits.
- “Small” cell antennas in front of houses reduce property values, according to the Montgomery County Property Tax Appeals Board.
- The Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board for Montgomery County lowered a Rockville home’s assessment: “Comparables warrant a reduction in value. Probability of neighboring cell tower also affects value negatively.”
- The Mayor of Takoma Park and most of Takoma Park’s City Council are part of an amicus brief supporting this same promising, landmark court case against the FCC. The case seems likely to push the FCC to thoroughly review decades of science indicating its 25–year–old exposure guidelines for wireless radiation are not applicable to modern technology, and to update them accordingly. Oral arguments were just heard in late January.
- In 2018, Councilmember Riemer, in supporting a previous court challenge led by Montgomery County, noted that he and others had asked the FCC “to make every effort to consider all available research and update their RF emissions guidelines accordingly. They have declined to that…so we are taking them to court to ensure that they fulfill their responsibility to keep our residents safe.” ZTA 19–07 undermines the promising new effort above –– involving Takoma Park officials –– to finally achieve the County’s very own goal.
- Evidence from hundreds of studies, including the definitive NIH National Toxicology Program Study, show that wireless radiation, from 2G, 3G and 4G –– all below 5G, cause biological and environmental effects. There is “clear evidence” of cancer from cell phone level radiation exposure. 4G/5G densification will add significantly to current levels of radiation exposure.
- Symptoms are being experienced by wireless deployments in other areas: firefighters suffered neurological damage, cancer cluster at an elementary school with tower , and injuries in Switzerland.
- 252 leading scientists and experts in Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) from 43 nations have signed an Appeal to the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) asking for greater health protection on EMF exposure as of October 2019.
- The insurance industry will not insure cell towers, antennas, poles, wires, and devices due to the health risks and damages from long term exposure.
- As of March 2020, 203,659 signatories from 203 nations and territories have signed an Appeal to the UN, WHO, Council of Europe, and governments of all nations to halt the deployment of 5G wireless networks, including 5G from space satellites.
Below is a sample letter you can personalize and send to your District member and all At-Large Montgomery County Council members (Glass, Albornoz, Jawando, and Riemer, the sponsor). Include your address on your District letter.
Note: Councilmember Riemer is the lead sponsor, while Gabe Albornoz, County Council Vice President, and Craig Rice, Councilmember for District 2, are co-sponsors. However, they are not on Mr. Riemer’s PHED committee, which is taking the lead on ZTA 19–07. The only other two members of that committee are Councilmember Jawando and Councilmember Friedson, so please be sure to contact them ASAP!
To: Montgomery County Council
I am writing to request that you vote against ZTA 19–07, which would allow densified 4G and 5G “small” cell microwave radiation antennas in residential areas of Montgomery County. I oppose deploying untested, ultra-high frequency microwave radiation in Montgomery County. Several lawsuits against the FCC for its unreasonable Orders and outdated exposure guidelines have been brought to court by Montgomery County and its affiliates. We ask you to table this amendment until all devices are proven safe for all Montgomery County citizens, our environment, and the core values of our society. In the meantime, rewrite wireless zoning for maximum protections for our communities until FCC standards are safer for people and the environment.
Likewise, require warnings be made mandatory for every Wireless Telecommunications Facility (WTF) installation, and in every commercial venue with WiFi, antennas, small cells, etc. The robust promotion of 5G for this ZTA is new, therefore another public hearing on ZTA 19–07 is urged by your constituency.
<organizations and individuals names, address>
The undersigned organizations and individuals request that you publicly oppose and vote against ZTA 19–07, which would allow deployment of intensified 4G and new 5G “small cell” microwave radiation antennas in residential areas of Montgomery County. We support a wired-based, fiber to the premises solution as the more secure, cheaper, faster technical solution without the property devaluation, insurance liability, and health risks.
The proposed 4G/5G antennas and their networks are likely to have long standing effects in many areas: climate, the ecosystem in general, privacy invasion, cyber security, reduced property values, and human health –– especially in children. The insurance industry has calculated the medical risks are too high to cover, so the proposed, and existing, wireless infrastructure of towers, antennas, poles, and supporting equipment in Montgomery would have no insurance coverage for damages from long-term exposures.
The 4G microwave radiation infrastructure and devices have more than 2,000 scientific and medical studies linking exposures to biological effects for people, wildlife, and plants. This radiation appears to be especially riskier to children and other medically vulnerable people. Other nations and cities are rejecting 5G and small antennas due to these biological effects. Montgomery County needs to rewrite wireless zoning for maximum protections of our communities and establish “safe havens” that accommodate its medically vulnerable population.
The new 5G technology includes ultra-high frequency millimeter microwave radiation, which has higher energy per square meter and greater capacity for risk to people and the environment than 4G. No safety studies have established a level at which this frequency is safe, and 5G service will include 4G, which we already know is dangerous. Warning signs, viewable to the public, Warning signs that are viewable to the public need to be mandatory for every WTF installation, and in every commercial venue with WiFi, antennas, small cells, etc.
Furthermore, Montgomery County was party to a lawsuit against the FCC for their failure to thoroughly review and update their exposure guidelines. Legal challenges continue against the FCC’s guidelines –– most notably, EHT et al vs FCC, for which many Takoma Park elected officials signed on to the Amicus Brief. Additionally, the U.S. District Court of Appeals found in United Keetoowah Band vs FCC (August 9, 2019) that the FCC was “arbitrary and capricious” in exempting 5G infrastructure from health, environmental, and historical review. As a result, the FCC is under judicial order not to proceed with enforcement of their requirement that local jurisdictions pass legislation such as ZTA 19–07.
Alternatives exist with wired networks such as fiber optic, known as “SafeG”. Fiber optic is already in place in many areas. It has no health risks, and the service is documented in locally-owned networks to be much faster, cheaper, more energy efficient, while providing more reliable data integrity and protecting privacy. Wired internet also remains subject to local regulatory control.
Protection of our safety, health, and environment is the primary purpose of our government and of your representation of us, the electorate. We ask you to table this amendment until all medical, scientific, and legal issues are resolved, and the proposed technology, infrastructure, and devices are proven safe for all Montgomery County citizens, our environment, and the core values of our society. The heavy promotion of 5G for this ZTA is new. Therefore, another public hearing on ZTA 19–07 is urged by your constituency.
<organizations and individuals names, address>
Use your address to find your district at
Marc Elrich, County Executive email@example.com
At-Large: Hans Riemer, Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777- 7964
At-Large: Will Jawando, Councilmember.Jawando@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777- 7811
District 1: Andrew Friedson, Councilmember.Friedson@montgomerycountymd.gov 240- 777-7828 (Bethesda, Potomac, and Poolesville)
District 2: Craig Rice, Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777-7955 (Clarksburg, Damascus, and Germantown)
District 3: Sidney Katz, Councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777- 7906 (Gaithersburg and Rockville)
District 4: Nancy Navarro, Councilmember.Navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov 240- 777-7968 (Colesville, Laytonsville, Olney, and Wheaton)
District 5: Tom Hucker, Councilmember.Hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777- 7960 (Burtonsville, Silver Spring, and Takoma Park)
At-Large: Evan Glass, Councilmember.Glass@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777- 7966
At-Large: Gabe Albornoz, Councilmember.Albornoz@montgomerycountymd.gov 240- 777-7959