Lake Dillon Fire to address cell tower concerns at Tuesday meeting
Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue will host a meeting concerning the construction of a new Verizon cell tower at its Summit Cove station on Tuesday, following concerns from nearby residents.
Neighbors to the station expressed fears that the new tower, which will be located at the center of Summit Cove, could lead to potential health risks, property value changes and noise issues.
Officials hope that by bringing in representatives of Verizon Wireless, Lake Dillon Fire and Summit County, members of the neighborhood will be able to better discuss their apprehensions and come to a resolution.
“We are all about giving everyone a chance to speak their mind,” said Steve Lipsher, Lake Dillon Fire public information officer. “We want to alleviate those concerns or accommodate them.”
One resident put together an informal petition that gained 50 signatures after she was notified that the new tower would be fewer than 300 feet from her home.
“I don’t think it’s something that belongs right in the middle of our neighborhood,” Summit Cove resident Toni Smierciak said. “We suggested to have it relocated higher up on the hill somewhere so it will serve all of Summit Cove, but not near anyone’s homes.”
Verizon approached Lake Dillon Fire with the idea in January 2014, as some Summit Cove areas lack cell phone service. Verizon then submitted the project to the Snake River Planning Commission, which approved the project this year after notifications and public hearings.
Despite these approvals, Lake Dillon Fire officials say they will wait to sign a five-year lease agreement with Verizon until after the public forum.
“We know that residents of Summit Cove long have struggled with cell-phone service, and when Verizon approached us we thought it was worth considering as a potential solution,” Lake Dillon Fire Chief Dave Parmley said in a statement. “We want to be good neighbors and take into account the concerns of residents, both pro and con.”
The 40-foot tower will be enclosed in a wooden structure to look like a fire hose tower and match the rest of the station. If approved, Verizon will pay Lake Dillon Fire $1,300 each month.
In response to concerns about noise, Lipsher said the only exterior noise would be from an air conditioning unit during the summer. While the tower will have a backup generator in the event of a power loss, the tower will use natural a gas generator instead of a diesel one, which Lipsher said should emit less noise.
County officials also released a letter in response to health concerns raised in a board meeting last Tuesday.
“We didn’t believe there were any associated health risks, but we did some research,” said county manager Gary Martinez. “Neither the American Cancer Society, WHO, the CDC or the FCC have expressed any concerns about the health risk related to this. We’ll all listen and learn next Tuesday night.”
Smierciak said that if the tower goes in, she would like a party independent from Verizon to test the tower for radio frequency (RF) emissions, the waves cell phones and towers emit when transmitting calls and messages.
The American Cancer Society Reports that at ground level, the amount of RF energy is thousands of times less than safe exposure limits drawn by the U.S. Federal Communication Commision (FCC), decreasing further as the distance between the tower and the person increases. Still Smerciak is concerned for one of her neighbors who lives within 100 feet of the fire station.
“I live 150 feet away. There’s a house between me and the fire station, and they’ve got two little kids. They just moved in last week, after the fire department sent out the notice,” said Summit Cove resident Jerry Maisonmeuve. “I do know that they need better cell service out here, but if you don’t have Verizon, what is that going to do for you? It’s hard to figure it out.”
Lake Dillon Fire will host a meeting to address these concerns on Tuesday, May 26, at 5 p.m. at the Summit Cove fire station at 434 Summit Drive. While the meeting will be open to public comments, the board will also accept written comments by Friday, May 22, sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to P.O. Box 4428, Dillon, CO 80435.
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