Scottsdale residents vow to fight proposed cell tower

Residents of Scottsdale’s McCormick Ranch say ATT’s proposed cell tower will “ruin” Mountain View Park and they won’t let it happen without a fight.

“We will continue this fight until the end,” said Jane Myers, a board member of the McCormick Ranch Property Owners’ Association. “We believe the City Council should pay attention to its residents, not a commercial entity, and I know I’ve heard this may benefit some residents, but we cannot allow our park to be ruined for this small benefit.”

A group of McCormick Ranch residents met May 21 to share information about the potential impact of locating the cell tower in the park. They plan to flood council members with e-mails asking them to reject ATT’s request, and to speak in opposition when the council reconsiders the request.

In April, the council voted, 4-3, to continue consideration of the permit until more research is conducted on alternative sites. Residents and some council members raised concerns that the tower could pose health risks to children playing in the area, particularly at a sandbox for toddlers.

The proposed tower would be built near the center of the park on top of a replacement light pole near the third-base dugout of a baseball field, said Keith Niederer, senior city planner. The associated equipment shelter is proposed just southwest of the tennis courts. The park is in McCormick Ranch at 8625 E. Mountain View Road.

The pole is 60 feet tall, and the replacement pole would add 10 feet with nine antennas and remote radio heads mounted near the top. Cochise Elementary School is west of the park.

ATT is “working hard to meet the growing demand for high-speed wireless service in central Scottsdale — in a way that respects the character of the community,” said Jerry Fuentes, ATT’s president for Arizona and New Mexico.

“We evaluated new sites but did not find another location that addresses the coverage gaps in this area with minimal impact,” he said. “In the meantime, we will continue working closely with city and neighborhood leaders to ensure their feedback is addressed.”

John Cordes, an organizer of the recent community meeting, said ATT hasn’t reached out to McCormick Ranch residents since the council vote. The residents want the city to hire a third-party consultant to examine alternate sites for the cell tower.

“I don’t think they’ve (ATT) actually been following what they were asked at the council meeting,” he said.

Myers said the Property Owners’ Association decided to remain neutral on ATT’s request because residents are divided on the issue, but she plans to continue pushing the association to oppose it.

“They (ATT) have other avenues, we don’t,” she said. “Once it’s in our park, it’s here. This is not our problem, it’s their problem. I’m not here to take care of their problems. I’m here to save our neighborhood park.”

Niederer said the request has not yet been scheduled for reconsideration by the council. According to the planning staff’s report, locating the cell tower in the park would not have any potential impact on public safety.

Caroline Walrad, a Scottsdale-based homeopath, said many people have come to her with electrosensivity after cell towers have located near their homes. She presented numerous studies from other countries, such as Israel and Germany, that suggest a link between cell towers and increased neurobehavioral symptoms and cancer.

“It’s very much like a microwave,” she said. “So, let’s put a giant microwave by a school.”

According to the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates carriers, “measurements made near typical cellular and personal communications service cell sites have shown that ground-level power densities are well below the exposure limits recommended by radio frequency/microwave safety standards” issued by the agency.

Gene Montemore, a real-estate agent and McCormick Ranch resident, said the request to locate the cell tower in the park already is hurting property values.

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