2015-08-20 / Opinion

Inappropriate Commercial Venture at Rogers

To the Editor:

The monster cell tower hanging over the residents in the Fifth Ward near the fire station started in 2000. It must be noted that these same people are bracketed by two towers, with the other being a tower as a fat flag pole at the fire station supposedly necessary for citywide fire protection. However, the communications tower for efficient operations of said fire station is located behind their building.

The structure started out as a worthy school project involving a windmill for educational purposes at Rogers High School. It was done for public purposes on public property. After a number of years of problems with the windmill, it was abandoned. However, the tall stanchion remained with the windmill removed. Unbeknown to residents, it was removed by a cell provider in lieu of placing an initial cell pod on it. Now three providers are partakers. This is a commercial purpose on public property, which is different altogether. Thus began the monster which is seen today with no educational purposes.

The neighborhood meeting with the Newport School Committee on August 11 at Rogers High School proved informative for both the committee and the residents. In deference to the committee, most were not sitting when the entire situation developed. It mushroomed over the years. In addition, a School Committee should not have to be dealing with a situation which is not really part of their charge of education. It is fitting that they concern themselves with the important business of education and NOT cell towers.

Because something was done with good intentions but was done improperly in terms of notifications, public hearings, or workshops with the abutters, in addition to not going through the City Planner, Planning Board (for consistency with the Comprehensive Community Plan) and not receiving at least an advisory opinion the Zoning Board does not make it proper in a residential zone today.

Not being an expert on EMF transmissions, I cannot comment on them. However, this cyclops not only sits over this Fifth Ward enclave but also sits over Rogers High School classrooms 24 hours a day. If I were a parent of these students, I would for sure be asking questions.

This area's residents have done their duty for cell transmission with the fire station cell unit not 500 feet from the movie transformer–looking monster hovering above them and the school. It is recommended that the School Committee not renew any leases for continuation of this structure. Since we all know the need for cell phone transmission for our area and the city, the committee should recommend that the City of Newport work with the providers in finding a more appropriate location for this commercial venture, as is done elsewhere throughout Rhode Island.

Bill Falcone

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