2017-12-14 / Opinion


City Council Should Honor Cell Tower Decision

First, this community would like to thank Dave Carlin for his unwavering efforts to complete the dismantling of the cell tower on the Rogers High School campus. This industrial cell tower was completely ill conceived, constructed with no community knowledge or input, and avoided any standard zoning regulations. The Newport School Committee was unable to manage any controls over the behemoth cell companies’ many expansions. The tower has ruined a beautiful, historic New England landscape, proved invasive to our homes, devalued our property and is bombarding the natural environment, our family homes, the fire department personnel, teachers and schoolchildren with a constant wave of increasing EMFs.

This neighborhood, with its many supporters, wants to finalize the issue that was identified, challenged, studied, work-shopped ad nauseam, and then voted on to terminate the leases and for the cell tower to be removed. The Newport School Committee members demonstrated this by their vote to support total removal of the cell tower.

Our community greatly appreciates the school committee members who listened, grasped the negative impact and then voted to end the leases and dismantle this tower of gloom and doom. The school committee then allowed more than two years for the billion-dollar companies to find alternatives and solutions for their business, which they have.

Please note this community already has towers at the fire house station No. 2, St. Augustin’s bell tower, which was recently upgraded, Emmanuel Church, and a handful of telephone pole units. There is also a huge new tower at the southwest of Fort Adams, which is very visible from Wellington Avenue, Kings Park and historic downtown Newport, with its striking silhouette at sunset. This community is already bearing a burden for the city and its relationship with Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Below is a list of Newport community cell towers that I know of. I am sure I’m missing many other locations.

. New large cell tower erected on the southwest part of Fort Adams.

. Large cell tower remains in front of fire station No. 2.

. St. Augustin’s Church bell tower. With serious “upgrades.”

. Increases at Freebody Park/ Toppa Field.

. Newport hospital upgrade.

. New location at Emmanuel Church.

. New location at campsite on Carrol Avenue.

. Many new little receivers/ transmitters on telephone poles throughout the city.

Through the two years of proceedings, carried out regularly and in accordance with established rules and principles, the Newport School Committee and the Newport community met to determine to terminate the leases for the cell tower. The alarmed, well-reasoned Newport citizens outlined their concerns of cell towers in general, but primarily discussed the ever-expanding school tower that looms over a Newport neighborhood. Through numerous proceedings, workshops, discussions of property devaluations, concerns of a clear health warning against exposure to EMFs and dealing with smirking cell company lawyers’ monologues, I did not see Newport City Council members at any time, nor did any of my neighbors who participated at these numerous meetings, workshops, etc. Yet now, they are the leaser of this tower?

Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint are showing who controls the “where" and the “how much." Regarding new cell tower locations and magnitude, supporting locations where leases are not renewed, the industrial pollution of our beautiful landscape, and preserving the health and welfare of this community, well, the cell companies do, not our community and currently, not our city council. This has been demonstrated by the apparent responsibility shift of the Newport City Council as they seized proprietorship of the Rogers High School tower to preserve the wishes of the cell companies. It is apparent the wireless corporate conglomerates have been working back channels of city hall to voice their “unhappiness” with the school committee vote.

The recently held cell tower workshop at city hall may have been new to the city council members, but it was not to the citizens of this community. We have been subjected to the arrogance of the lobbyists/lawyers who flaunt the unfair tools the FCC has gifted them, allowing for extensive land grab and expansion of cell phone tower construction with no oversight from municipalities or citizens groups, thereby holding sway over a public’s rights and wishes.

There is no threat to public safety.

According to the FCC’s 911 Wireless Services Guide, "The FCC's basic 911 rules require wireless service providers to transmit all 911 calls to a [public safety answering point], regardless of whether the caller subscribes to the provider's service or not."

The recent concern that 911 calls would possibly be impacted by the removal of the Rogers cell tower is unfounded. Emergency cell phone access is routed to the nearest cell tower, regardless of the carrier. As such, the existing cell tower at the Newport Fire Department Station 2 on Old Fort Road would pick up any 911 calls otherwise serviced by the Rogers tower.

We are asking Newport City Council to honor the decision to terminate the Rogers High School cell tower leases, dismantle the tower and protect this community from the cell tower conglomerate’s superior resources in their effort to wear us down financially, emotionally and to limit this neighborhood, the firemen and schoolchildren of the heightened consequences of exposure to EMFs.

Best Regards,
Stephen Turcotte

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