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Allentown Zoning Board discusses cell phone tower installation

By Kris Rile, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: May 06 2013 09:47:37 PM CDT
Updated On: May 07 2013 06:59:54 AM CDT
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The Allentown Zoning Board listened to a proposal from Verizon Wireless to install a cell phone tower on South Dauphin Street at their hearing on Monday night. After testimony from engineers and brief deliberation, the Board decided not to make a final decision on the matter and will revisit the discussion at a later date.

The proposed location for the site is at 317 S. Dauphin Street, which is the best location for the tower according to the Site Planner James Rogers. Rogers works for Wireless Access Technologies, and was hired for site acquisition services for Verizon Wireless on this project.

According to Rogers, most industrial areas are highly developed, which makes it difficult to accommodate a cell phone tower. However, this site is a heavily wooded area and that will be most beneficial for the construction of the tower. Despite the area being heavily wooded, Verizon plans on installing 23 evergreen trees to help obstruct the view of the base of the tower to the general public.

According to engineer Petros Tsoukalas, there would not be any concern of the tower to collapse on any surrounding properties.

“The actual probability of a monopole falling is astronomical,” stated Tsoukalas.

However, the proposal states that the fall zone for the tower in case it was to collapse is 51.4 feet. The tower is proposed to be constructed in a corner of the property and is only 27 feet from the adjacent property.

“I would be very uncomfortable confiscating someone else’s property as a fall zone,” stated Zoning Board Member Scott Unger.

After brief deliberation, it was determined that if Verizon was able to move the tower further into the property to meet that 51 feet fall zone without affecting any adjacent properties, the Board would be more willing to approve the request.

Four objectors were present at the hearing to express their opinions on the installation of the cell tower. The concerned city residents were mainly focused on the health and well being of the children and the families in the adjacent neighborhood and elementary school of the site. Although the engineers that testified at the hearing stated that Verizon works within the limits determined by FCC, residents were still concerned of any health issues accompanied with an installation of a cell tower.

There has been no evidence that any negative health issues are directly linked to a cell tower being constructed within 1,500 feet of a residential area.

The Board adjourned the hearing after testimony from engineers on behalf of Verizon Wireless as well as concerns from city residents. No date was chosen to reopen the hearing at the meeting.