Some members of the Parklawn community are protesting plans by AT&T to construct a 183-foot cell tower on the grounds of the Parklawn Recreation Association, which operates a pool used by locals, including West End Alexandria residents.
The community lies just west of Alexandria city limits. Fairfax County spokesman Brian Worthy said New Cingular Wireless, an AT&T company, submitted an application in June 2009 for a monopole on the grounds of the association. The application was accepted in January 2010, and the Fairfax County Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the application at its Dec. 6 meeting.
The tower is described as a monopole designed as a tree pole, including a 3-foot tree canopy. It would be placed within a compound measuring approximately 1,080 square feet, enclosed by an 8-foot-high chain link fence, Worthy said.
The group maintains that the tower would adversely affect the neighborhood aesthetics and quality of life, lower property values and pose health risks. Becky Choi, a community member protesting the proposed tower, said it would be an eyesore in the neighborhood.
“Because of high visibility, it will hurt the property values, no question,” she said. Choi said she also worried about vandalism at the site.
Neil Ende, a McLean resident who has been involved in civic activism against cell phone tower installations, told Patch AT&T hasn’t made a good faith effort to find alternate sites for the tower.
The Parklawn Civic Association, which has yet to take a stance on the tower proposal, is surveying members and non-members in the community to determine where the entire community stands on having a cell tower in the community.
Daren Shumate, a member of the board of directors for Parklawn Recreation Association who supports the tower, said tower rental fees are needed to help maintain the pool, where community use has dwindled due to changing demographics.
“The tower would go a long ways for us to improve the pool,” he said. “Essentially, we are one catastrophe away from closing the pool forever.”
Shumate acknowledged that the tower would be visible to nearby residents but argued it was no uglier than a wooden telephone pole in a front yard and that most people don’t notice the cell towers that already exist in the community.
“If it gets built, it’s not like we’re building a hog-rendering plant,” he said. “It’s not like we’re building a maximum security prison. It’s one pole.”
AT&T spokesman Dan Langen said that the company is committed to working with communities to create a mobile Internet network to meet customers' demand for advanced wireless services. “AT&T will continue to discuss the proposal with local officials who have authority to act upon it,” he said in an email.
Also, Langen pointed out that the Federal Communications Commission has found no scientific evidence linking wireless devices to cancer or other illnesses.
AT&T is holding a public meeting to discuss the proposed tower at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, in the cafeteria of Glasgow Middle School, located at 4101 Fairfax Parkway. Prior to that meeting, at 6 p.m., the Stop the Parklawn Tower group will meet at the school.
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