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Neighbors protest Clinton cell tower, soil sampling

Marcia Monma, Marilyn Klansnic, Beth Wyatt and Bruce Buls along with Galina and Tullamae stand in front of the Dorothy Cleveland trail.  - Celeste Erickson
Marcia Monma, Marilyn Klansnic, Beth Wyatt and Bruce Buls along with Galina and Tullamae stand in front of the Dorothy Cleveland trail.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson

Residents on Lupine Lane in Clinton woke up to an unwelcome noise Monday morning. Nine neighbors had gathered to physically block a drilling tractor from entering the Dorothy Cleveland Trail through an access road on the small street.

Ed Field, operations manager of the Port of South Whidbey, said the workers were checking on area conditions of the proposed tower – a requirement of the building permit.

The four workers were drilling for soil samples and slope stability. No permits were necessary for this job, Field said.

The residents were concerned the work on the cell tower had begun before the public comment period was finished, but it already ended, July 31.

The neighbors were worried the work would also damage the trail and their septic systems.

Clyde and Marcia Monma were the first to inquire about the situation but were quickly joined by more neighbors. The group called the county and sheriff’s office, but eventually stood back after learning nothing could be done.

The group stayed at the scene for an hour and a half.

Marcia Monma said the proposed tower would stick right up behind her house in a hazardous area with steep slopes less than 30 feet away from the site. The Monmas offered to purchase the land of the proposed site from the Port in December 2012 to keep it as a public use park.

Their offer was denied in favor of leasing the property to AT&T. The tower is intended to improve cell phone coverage in the area.

John Bertrand from Island County Public Works visited the site after a call from one of the residents and said he was not surprised the workers were in the area, but was surprised they weren’t sampling a month ago. Bertrand said the samples would complete the submittal package needed for the cell phone tower.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to work with the county with the process of the cell tower and working on this project,” Field said.

He claims to hear from boat launch users who want more coverage. Field said he is, however, concerned about the safety issues the tower present.

The samples taken are part of that process.

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