Verizon proposes more cell antennas for Poolesville -- Gazette.Net


This story has been corrected on Nov. 20. An explanation follows the story.

Poolesville’s commissioners are redrawing their agreement with Verizon as the company asks to place more cell antennas atop the town’s water tower.

The town’s current lease with Verizon allows for nine cell antennas. The company is asking for three more, according to Town Manager Wade Yost.

The telecommunications company is seeking a special exception for the additions to the water tower on Wootton Avenue. Yost said the company is seeking to expand its data transmitting capacity from a 3G network to 4G, which is generally faster, but the coverage area would not change.

Town commissioners are taking the opportunity to look at Verizon’s lease, possibly adding or modifying charges to the company.

“Basically, everything’s on the table right now,” the president of the town commissioners, Jim Brown, said at a town hall meeting on Monday.

In May, the town commissioners voted to hire the Kansas company Radiofrequency Safety International Inc. to conduct a hazard assessment monitoring of the antennas. The $3,000 report found nothing of concern; the amount of radio-frequency energy the antennas produced was below the limits to which humans can be safely exposed.

“I seriously doubt there is a significant amount of radiation [coming from the antennas],” town Commissioner Jerry Klobukowski said.

But town Commissioner Brice Halbrook said the town still needs to take precautions.

“We want to be careful,” Halbrook said.

Halbrook suggested conducting a similar study with a different company, to confirm the results Radiofrequency Safety International found.

Town Commissioner Chuck Stump said they should add the cost of the study to Verizon’s lease, and have a company conduct the study on a regular basis — possibly every three or five years.

Verizon pays about $2,500 per month to rent the space atop the town’s water tower. Sprint, Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile each pay between $2,300 and $3,700 per month for their spaces, Yost said. It was not clear how many cell antennas the other companies currently have on top of the water tower.

A Verizon representative did not respond to questions by press time.

A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the cell antennas as “towers.”