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Step by Step: Cell Towers in Your Community

Communities should be a part of the decision making process when it comes to cell antennas. Here are some ways to get involved if you find out a cell tower is coming to your school or neighborhood. 

Connect with others to get informed. 

Many hands make light work. Usually with cell towers you need to act fast, because the tower application is in process and usually being fast tracked. This means going door-to-door to people who live near the proposed tower site and connecting on community listserves. People get involved on cell tower issues not only because of the radiation, but also because of the issues of property devaluation and aesthetics. 

Investigate the process 

You need to find out everything you can about the cell tower. This will mean going to your local municipality to request information. 

  • Who owns the land the cell tower is going on? 
  • Is there a lease or master agreement? If so, who signed it? Was there public participation in that process? 
  • What companies will build the tower? 
  • Who are the network carriers that want to put these antennas up? 
  • Are there public hearings? If so, when and where? If not-  then why not? 
  • What opportunities are there to participate in the decision making process? 
  • Was the application properly completed? 

Build a coalition with other groups that will be affected. 

If the cell tower is proposed on a school, then contact the Parent Teacher Organization or the teacher union. Present at the local homeowners association meeting and start a community conversation. Get a letter, position statement  or resolution issued. 

  • The Hillsmere Elementary School PTA has written several letters to the school board in opposition to cell towers near the school. 
  • The New York State PTA Passed a resolution on cell towers in 2014 supporting legislation that would encourage local communities to regulate the placement of cell tower antennas particularly in schools and supporting continued research into the long‐term effects of radio frequency. 
  • In Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Maryland sustained efforts by a coalition of parents, health groups and homeowners halted additional school cell towers. 

Ensure full transparency for your community. 

Transparency generally is the most important issue when it comes to cell towers; every community should have a transparent decision making process in place. 

  • Get all of the details that are on the application including:
  • antenna information- this will show the frequencies technology and also 
  • projected noise levels
  • The type of backup power that will be used (usually lead acid batteries, diesel tanks or gas)
  • The drawings and layout of equipment in the compound. 

Create a group or coalition and give yourself a name.

 

  • Make a simple flyer to distribute with a contact email for your group. 
  • A simple website or blog (super easy to maintain) is a great way to update parents and others who are interested. Several groups also have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. 
  • Post events, news, and action alerts to your community. 
  • Use a variety of platforms to share information and post the letters you write to the school administration. 
  • 5G Crisis has resources and a toolkit. 

Reach out to local papers and news stations. 

  • Write press releases about events and circulate this to local press. 
  • Call your local paper and tell them about your group for a news story.  
  • Hold a press conference and invite the press. 
  • Hold a community meeting with all groups including the companies wanting to build the tower. Let  all stakeholders ask questions and allow an opportunity for panelists to answer questions. 

Contact decision makers with science-based information

 

  • Contact your elected officials and set up meetings to discuss this issue with them. 
  • Ask them to protect your community and ensure the public is participating in the decision making process. Cell towers bring aesthetic issues, increased radiation, fire risk issues, additional noise, and property devaluation issues. All of these issues are important and need due diligence by decision makers. 

Speak out at decision making public meetings

 

  • Get the dates for upcoming council, PTA, and school board meetings, and find out how you can sign up to speak at those meetings. 
  • Generally, members of the public can comment for 3 to 5 minutes at these meetings, and this is an important opportunity to both inform policymakers and educate local residents who will be listening to you. 

 

Spark a community conversation. Raise awareness in your community with an educational event. 

 

  • Get a booth at your local community fair, farmers market, or PTA event. 
  • Host a film screening of documentary “Generation Zapped” or the PBS “Burt Wolf’s Travels and Traditions” to start a conversation in your community. Watch the episodes
  • Check out EHT’s recommended films to screen in your community. 
  • Organize a local meeting at your library and reach out to local clubs (Rotary, Lions, etc.) where you can speak about children and wireless. 
  • Write Letters to the Editor or short posts for your community organization newsletter.  
  • Post events and information on local community listserves. 
  • Raise awareness on social media.

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