Verizon Cell Tower Update - 2007

Submitted by John and Betty Cooke of Autumnwood Drive
   May 16, 2007 . . . This update is to provide the neighbors in the vicinity of the Island Presbyterian Church information on recent activities regarding the leasing of property behind the Church to Verizon for erection of a cell tower complex.
   On Monday, May 7, 2007, a formal petition opposing any potential Town approval that might be given for erection of a cell tower on the zoned residential property behind the Church was presented to the Town Board during its scheduled meeting by neighbor John Cook. Presenting the petition was part of the formal approved meeting agenda.
   180+ signatures were on the petition. Approximately 70 to 80 members of the neighborhood who had signed the petition were in attendance and stood, when asked, so that the Town Council Members could visually sense the strong opposition that the petition represented.
   Representatives from several local newspapers were in attendance at the Board Meeting. Articles covering the petition presentation and neighbors who spoke regarding it appeared in the Buffalo News, Niagara Gazette, Island Dispatch, and Grand Island Record, the later having it as the headline story for the May 12, 2007 edition.
   On Wednesday, May 9, 2007, John Cook, Bill Koch, and I attended, at our request, a meeting with the Church Session (elected governing board of the congregation) for them to learn more of neighborhood concerns about a possible cell tower, and, for us to obtain some clarification to basic questions being asked. About 45 minutes was spent with the Session.
   John Cook spoke in great detail about how upset he and others in the neighborhood were when learning indirectly that the Church was going to lease land to Verizon, that there was no communication from the Church that it was going to do so, that the concerns about the impact on the neighborhood were not considered, and that most members of the Session either lived in other parts of Grand Island, or elsewhere in Western New York, removed from where the cell tower would be erected.
   I spoke briefly to the major concerns of having the cell tower in our residential neighborhood. See attached summary (At the request of the Session, the summary was left with them)
   During the meeting, we were told that Verizon approached the Church, initially, several months ago about the possibility of erecting a cell tower complex on Church property. A member of the Session indicated that the Verizon representative (Brent Morgan), who appeared before the Session, indicated that someone from the Town (Iím assuming a Town employee or member of Town Government) suggested to Verizon that they might want to look at the Church property for a cell tower location.
   A member of the Session indicated that possible concerns of the neighborhood were considered, but would not elaborate. The needs of the Church were weighed against the problems a cell tower would cause. They felt there was no need to advise the neighborhood of the direction they were proceeding because there would be an opportunity for neighborhood concerns to be heard during the more formal period when applications from Verizon were submitted to the Town and approvals to proceed were requested.
   The Verizon proposal was looked at by the Session and discussed over a period of time. Feedback from the congregation was obtained. Because it involved an issue with church property, a vote from the entire congregation was needed before the Session could proceed. We were told that an affirmative vote from the congregation occurred on April 15th.
   To date, the Session has not signed an actual lease with Verizon. They indicated that they probably would not do so until actual governmental approvals were received and permits were issued.
   Members of the Session indicated the income from a long-term lease with Verizon was the primary reason for pursuing a land lease relationship with them. We were told the money would be used to support the ministry of the Church in support of its missionary work locally, regionally, and internationally. We were not told how much potential income to the Church was involved.
   John Cook told the Session that he personally was upset that the Church was looking at only the money side of the deal at the expense of its neighbors.
   Near the conclusion of our allotted time with the Session, I asked, since no agreement had been signed with Verizon, if the Church would reconsider its decision and pursue working out an alternative solution with its neighbors: one that addresses the needs of the Church and also addresses the concerns of its neighbors. There was no direct response to the question.
   A follow-up letter has been sent to the Church Session to see if they want to further discuss the issues involved and whether they want to consider working towards a compromise solution. Iíll advise the neighborhood if a response is received.
   If any neighbors have any specific thoughts on what steps or actions, if any, should occur prior to the time when the actual application(s) from Verizon are received and the Town review (approval/disapproval) process occurs, please drop me note. Iíll circulate all thoughts through a neighborhood update.
John Kackmann - John Cook
773-3437         773-0063

NEIGHBORHOOD CONCERNS

   There Are Potential Health Risks To Individuals Who Are In Close Proximity To The Emissions From Cell Towers For Long Periods Of Time

   Children May Be At The Most Risk For Having Potential Health Problems By Being In Close Proximity To Cell Towers For Long Periods Of Time

   Close Proximity To The Transmission Of Cell Towers Can Interfere With The Operation Of Electronic Equipment, Including Medical Devices, Within The Homes Of The Neighborhood

   An Area Of Peace And Tranquility Where The Tower Would Be Erected Would Be Impacted

   Another Wetland Area Will Be Damaged Or Destroyed

   The 120Ft. Tower, Large Concrete Block Maintenance Building, Chained Linked Fence, And Gravel Access Road Collectively Will Have A Major Negative Impact On Property Value Of The Surrounding Homes

   There Will Be Additional Noise Radiating At Times From The Site

   The Gravel Access Road Will Present Potential Security Problems To The Neighborhood

QUESTIONS FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD

    Why does the Church believe itís necessary to pursue a relationship with Verizon?

   Did the Church consider the impact that the erecting of a cell tower complex would have on its neighbors?

   What is the true status on finalizing a deal with Verizon?

   Is there an opportunity that the Church would reconsider and workout an alternative solution with its neighbors?