In a letter to MyRye.com, resident Carolina Johnson, who we have not heard from since her days at the Rye Flood Action Committee in the wake of the 2007 floods, says residents don't want the start of what could be an onslaught of mini cell towers. Her letter echoes similar concerns of Rye resident Thomas Putnam.
Rye City Council is holding a workshop regarding Crown Castle – the firm working on behalf of Verizon to place these mini cell towers around Rye – for this Thursday, September 8th at 7:30pm in the Council Chambers.
[UPDATE, as of late Wednesday afternoon: Please note that the Rye City Council Workshop on Crown Castle scheduled for Thursday, September 8, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. has been Postponed. The City Council will convene at 6:30 p.m. and will adjourn into Executive Session at 6:31 p.m. to discuss attorney client matters.]
By Carolina Johnson:
One day in 2011 my friend arrived at her house in Rye to find workers installing a mini cell tower right on her property! How could this be? No one gave her notice, shocked she called a City Council member at the time, who dismissed it as no big deal, nothing we can do to stop it from happening; my friend was told.
It turns out the City of Rye entered into an agreement with Next G, which subsequently was bought by Crown Castle to allow the installation of mini cell towers on residential neighborhoods without taking into account our local Wireless Telecommunications Facilities law, which has been in the books since 1998. See: http://ecode360.com/6976794
Chapter 196 states its purpose and legislative intent is to affirm the City of Rye’s authority concerning the placement of wireless telecommunications facilities. Why did this happen in the first place? Was it an oversight? Misunderstanding?
Today Crown Castle, on behalf of Verizon wants to add 64 new mini cell towers in addition to the 9 existing, mostly on residential neighborhoods. Here’s why Rye residents overwhelmingly oppose them:
–Decreased property values. As documented on several studies and related articles:
And as a Pelham resident testified to our City Council she lost 20% on the sale price of her home due to a neighboring mini cell tower.
–Public safety concerns
–Noise nuisance, the noise emission study submitted by Crown Castle should be taken with a grain of salt. The City should hire independent experts for an adequate report. (My friend reports the noise can be heard at all hours in her backyard and patio.)
-Once a mini cell tower has been placed it can be modified without any notice, meaning it can be bigger and louder.
-Once we allow this 64 mini cell towers we must allow the same access to other networks, this will completely change the character of our leafy suburb.
Can you hear me now?
The issue has mobilized hundreds of residents to express their opposition by signing a petition. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-mini-cell-towers-in-residential-areas-of-rye. With more than 600 residents’ signatures so far, this has turned into the next hot button issue for City Hall.
City Council has worked well in the past with Commissions of Concerned Citizens including Rock Chipping and Flooding, creating a Commission on Mini Cell Towers would pool a lot of talent together to work toward a common goal. Rye is one of many towns across the U.S. fighting similar battles and the model seems to be concerned residents and town governments working together, but City Council is reticent to create a Commission on this topic, instead they have organized a workshop regarding Crown Castle for Thursday, September 8th at 7:30 PM in the Council Chambers. http://www.egovlink.com/public_documents300/rye/published_documents/City%20Council/Agenda/2016/Agenda%2009-08-16%20Crown%20Castle%20Workshop.pdf
The perception that some city officials and elected leaders are overwhelmed by the challenge and not fighting for the affected residents of Rye is frustrating. We should respect our own laws and admit when there’s been a mistake. Do we have to wait for dozens of families to lose out on the sale of their homes to convince certain council members that this is a bad idea?
If you can’t make it to the Workshop on Thursday, the next public hearing on this matter is set for Wednesday September 14th at 7:30 PM at City Hall.