Proposed Cell Tower in Snug Hill Provokes Neighborhood Response


Photo by Jake Herman

The proposed cell tower would be built on the East Gate Swim and Tennis Club’s land. Revenue from the tower would be used to keep the club open.

By Jake Herman, Staff Writer

Residents of the Snug Hill neighborhood located near the corner of Gainsborough Road and Democracy Boulevard are concerned over a proposal for a cell tower in their neighborhood. They were informed of the proposal Feb. 14.

The proposed location of the tower is East Gate Swim and Tennis Club, which is at the corner of Gainsborough and Democracy, just a mile and a half from CHS and close to those who live on Snug Hill Lane and Snug Hill Court.

“I think it’s a horrible idea,” said a Snug Hill homeowner who preferred to not be named. “We would all be able to see it [from] our yards, and it’s not in keeping with the neighborhood.”

Residents were surprised by a lack of notice or warning about the proposal.

According to a Feb. 14 letter to the homeowners of Snug Hill, from the East Gate III Homes Association, the neighborhood homeowner’s association, the Homes Association “received no notification of the proposal” from the East Gate Recreation Association (EGRA) who has the right to direct the use of their land, the East Gate Swim and Tennis Club, within certain limits.

Some of the residents’ oppositions to the proposal stem from the fact that the proposed site of the tower is on the far part of EGRA property that is very close to residents’ houses, rather than placing the tower closer to the street corner.

According to the resident, while he understands placing the tower near the houses because of the increased elevation, he dislikes that the tower being so visible to residents and fears that it would lower the value of homes in the neighborhood.

Another residential concern is whether there are possible risks of cancer associated with frequent exposure and proximity to cell tower radiation.

Another Snug Hill resident, who also preferred to remain anonymous, worries that people don’t yet know enough about the effects of the radiation, and therefore won’t know if the proposed cell towers are safe.

According to a 2014 American Cancer Society article, conflicting studies exist surrounding cell tower radiation, and it has yet to be proven whether the radiation causes cancer.

Snug Hill residents who are frustrated or confused about the tower proposal are questioning the necessity of the cell tower.

According to the letter to homeowners from the East Gate III Homes Association, the proposal includes a provision that the third party company building the tower would pay lease money to EGRA to fund keeping the pool open since the club is facing a membership shortage.

According to the first resident, he has spoken to multiple neighbors who will cancel their East Gate Pool membership should the cell tower be built.

East Gate Swim and Tennis Club membership representative Susan Stillman declined to comment on the issue.

In addition to keeping the pool open, the proposed tower would also improve local coverage for whichever wireless providers use the tower once it is built.

While many residents are already concerned, the proposal is still in its earliest stages.

According to Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, an actual application for the East Gate cell tower has yet to be filed. Once it is filed it must pass through the County Department of Technical Services to clarify the engineering and practicality of the tower. It would then move to a hearing where both sides would get to voice their opinions and then an administrative law judge would decide the case.

“We rarely get these kind of issues,” Berliner said. “We always want [the tower] to be compatible in the neighborhood.”