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LETTER TO THE EDITOR | County should consider cell towers carefully

August 12, 2013 · Updated 4:09 PM
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Editor,

Right now we have the chance to ask our county representatives to carefully evaluate a proposed cell tower on Whidbey Island’s sensitive perimeter. As an island, our central location attracts cell companies eager to benefit their off-island target markets. Here is how we can protect our Island interests:

1. Verify the engineering at the expense of the proposer, AT&T in this case.

Require an independent audit and evaluation of the signal engineering model AT&T submits in support of its application so that the community can verify the actual value this cell tower site would provide local emergency responders and/or those pockets currently underserved by AT&T’s cell service. The proposed site’s primary value to AT&T will be the potential for bouncing signals from mainland and peninsula areas to the much larger and more profitable populations in the Mukilteo area. It’s not about service to our small population here on South Whidbey.

2. Then do the county’s math.

Proximity to a cell tower will lower property values in an area with that currently exceeds average property tax revenues due to the high bluff views offered there.

Historically U.S. real estate appraisers calculate as much as a 20 percent reduction in home values when a cell tower appears in a neighborhood, and realtors are required to alert potential buyers in many venues. Estimate the cost of such a reduction to the county over the next 10 to 20 years.

3. Then do the neighborhoods math.

Calculate a 20 percent reduction in the sales value of individual homes in the visually impacted area, and calculate the ripple effect of lower property values across the entire Possession area. Calculate how much individual property owners will lose.

4. Then do some independent research.

The cell tower industry authored its own regulations over 20 years ago. The industry understood that it would have to protect its planned cell tower proliferation from community concerns over the effects of microwaves on human health. To limit community restrictions on cell towers, the industry wrote legislation that legally excludes consideration of scientific research on links between microwaves and human health. In Europe, regulations limiting cell tower emissions are many times more restrictive than the U.S. limit. Europeans are protected by cell tower set backs 10 times greater than those required in the U.S. Please check the EMF Safety Network website for details on how other communities have investigated and addressed the spurious claims of cell tower companies. And to understand the effect of microwave emissions on our cells’ ability to repair themselves — view the documentary film Resonance — Beings of Frequency posted on the EMF Safety Network website.

DIANE KAUFMAN

Clinton

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