Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Huntington Beach will move cell phone tower

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Huntington Beach will move cell phone tower
T-Mobile could be reimbursed up to $50,000 for construction already done next to school.


HUNTINGTON BEACH City leaders unanimously voted Monday night to move a cell phone tower that was slated to be built next to Harbour View School and sparked public outcry.

The City Council also said it would reimburse T-Mobile up to $50,000 for construction already done for the tower and directed city staff to renegotiate with the cell phone company for a new tower location.

"I think it is going to be a partnership between T-Mobile and the city to address the community's concerns," said Councilman Don Hansen. "We both need to go back to the drawing board now."

The council also asked staff to change city rules to require notification of local residents when future cell phone sites are planned to be built within 500 feet of a school. The changed rules will need to come back to the City Council for an official vote.

This decision was met with applause from the 200 parents and residents who attended the meeting and had expressed concerned that the cell phone tower could cause cancer. About 20 public speakers addressed the council thanking them for their decision and asking for more notification about changes in their neighborhood.

"I am thrilled that all of you voted as you did to help take care of the situation for our children," said resident Tay Norton. "I pray that what you learn from this is anything proposed on a school site or a playground that you stop and make a public hearing. The seven of you might not have information that hundreds of us have."

T-Mobile will stop construction of the cell phone tower until an agreement is reached with the city, the cell phone company said in a statement to The Orange County Register on Monday.

Mayor Keith Bohr had called an emergency City Council meeting to reconsider the T-Mobile contract after about 150 parents and neighbors attended a town hall at Harbour View on Thursday night. Residents had asked why they were not notified of the construction and one fourth grader had started a petition signed by other students asking that the tower be removed.

The cell phone tower was approved by the council Jan. 20 and was expected to bring the city $2,500 a month for up to 20 years. The city and T-Mobile were not legally required to notify the residents of the construction, city spokeswoman Laurie Payne said.

T-Mobile said that the cell phone tower is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, "which sets conservative, science-based radio frequency emission guidelines to protect the health of citizens."

There are four cell phone towers at Huntington Beach High School, Payne said. Ocean View School District's board policy has been to not allow cell phone towers on their school sites, Superintendent Alan Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen and Ocean View board President Norm Westwell said they were not notified about the tower construction.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009