• Last modified 470 days ago (March 21, 2019)


Cell phone tower proposal sparks backlash

Staff writer

Neighbors near a proposed 129-foot cell phone tower in Marion are fighting back over what they contend is the city’s failure to follow the law.

The tower, to be part of the Verizon network, is proposed for installation at Commercial and Forest Sts.

The first notice of an upcoming Marion board of zoning appeals public hearing on tower installation, scheduled for Feb. 26, was published in the newspaper Jan. 30. That notice did not clearly identify the location of the proposed tower, as neighbors say the law requires.

They also contend neighboring property owners are to receive a letter, mailed 20 days before the board of zoning appeals meeting, notifying them of the upcoming meeting.

Autumn Hanson, 435 Forest, provided a postal tracking record showing a certified letter from the city was mailed Feb. 16 and took until March 1 to reach her address. The letter spent four days at the Postal Services Processing and Distibution Center in Kansas City, then eight more days to reach her March 1 — three days after the meeting.

Hanson contacted a lawyer to speak to the city about that letter not being mailed on time.

“If you or I break the law and use the excuse ‘I didn’t know that was against the law,’ do you think that would hold up in court?” Hanson said. “These are people serving in local government, should they be given an exception to the rule?”

Hanson stepped outside her dog grooming business and pointed across the road to an area where test holes for tower footings have been drilled to show how close the proposed tower is to her home.

After getting the letter following the meeting, neighbors put together protest petitions, gathering 31 signatures.The petitions were delivered to city hall March 11 by neighbor Paula Loveless, one day before the deadline.

Loveless said she’s opposed to a cell tower 306 feet away from her property for several reasons.

“I’m not for it at all,” she said. “Totally against it. Don’t want it.”

Hanson said she’s concerned about potential health hazards, having read articles about problems created by long-term exposure to cell phone signals.

“Even if we can’t use health as an argument, people read those articles,” she said.

Loveless also cites studies linking cell phone towers and cases of cancer.

“Being in nursing, I don’t want to be exposed to any risks for getting cancer,” Loveless said. “That’s one of my concerns. There is a day care that has kids there every day that’s close by.”

Hanson said she enjoys watching deer and wild turkeys in the place the tower is being considered. The area is home to wildlife.

“I’m concerned for the wildlife,” she said.

Loveless also said she is concerned about wildlife in the vicinity of the proposed tower.

“I’m sure it impacts them, too,” Loveless said.

Loveless said she doesn’t know why a cell phone tower needs to be inside city limits, and she’s worried about its effect on property values.

Marion city administrator Roger Holter directed questions to city attorney Susan Robson.

“Hanson filed a protest of what the planning and zoning adopted, and that will be discussed by the city council March 25,” Robson said. “I don’t think anyone did anything wrong, but I’ll double check.”

Last modified March 21, 2019