Conflict Over East Gate Cell Tower Continues


Photo by Jake Herman

Signs have been put up at the East Gate Swim and Tennis Club in protest of the proposed Verizon Wireless cell phone tower.

By Jake Herman, Online Opinions Editor

A zoning hearing on Jan. 9 may determine whether Verizon Wireless can build a cell phone tower at East Gate Swim and Tennis Club on the corner of Gainsborough Road and Democracy Boulevard.

After the hearing, the County Zoning Board will decide whether the land at East Gate will be re-zoned so that the cell tower can be built, which would provide the pool with supplemental revenue. Since learning about the lease that the East Gate Recreation Association (EGRA) entered into with Verizon to have a cell tower built on their property, many residents in Snug Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods have actively opposed the construction of a cell tower in a recreational area.

According to Verizon’s Nov. 2 proposal outlining the specifics of the tower, the tower would be 83 feet tall and feature 12 Verizon antennae that would improve wireless LTE speeds in Snug Hill and the surrounding community. Located in the pool’s parking lot, the tower would be surrounded by a 20’ by 35’ perimeter of barbed wire fence that would enclose the tower’s equipment, including generators and batteries.

Since the beginning of the cell tower process, area residents have voiced concerns about many aspects of the tower, citing worries such as decreasing property values, inconsistency with the character of the neighborhood, and potential health risks associated with the tower’s radiation.

“We want [the EGRA’s] actions to be transparent because it doesn’t just affect the pool,” an anonymous Snug Hill resident and CHS parent said. “We don’t want to be blindsided [by the tower].”

Verizon and the EGRA’s pre-hearing statement released Nov. 17 outlines how they will address these concerns at the hearing Jan. 9.

According to the statement, Verizon does not believe that the tower will decrease property values, citing analysis

performed by Valbridge Property Advisors, who objectively evaluate property values. They also believe that the tower will benefit surrounding neighborhoods by improving wireless LTE speeds and reducing the need for other nearby towers.

Even though the decision to partner with Verizon has already been made by the EGRA, many residents who are members of the pool are upset that their opinions were not weighed in the pool’s decision, and are concerned for the pool’s future.

According to the anonymous Snug Hill resident, her biggest concern about the cell tower is that the pool will go out of business, either from previous membership declines or a decline as a result of the cell tower, leaving only a cell tower in a previously recreational area.

East Gate Swim and Tennis Club representatives did not respond to a request to be interviewed for this story.

After the county zoning board rules on the hearing, members of the community may have a better sense as to whether the tower will be built. However, residents opposed to the tower have already filed a lawsuit against the EGRA and will continue to fight the tower if the zoning board approves the cell tower.