Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Zoning Variances for Giants

The monthly Zoning Board Hearing is scheduled for tonight at 7 pm in Municipal Hall (assuming it's not postponed due to snow). What makes this hearing interesting is that both agenda items are concerned with the cell phone and communications antennas and satellite dishes currently atop Montgomery Hospital.

1. Cingular Wireless is seeking 2 sets of variances: one to install "a temporary telecommunications tower on wheels that is 84' high with three (3) antennas and a microwave dish, temporary fencing, in the hospital parking lot located at the corner of Powell and East Fornance...."  The second is to "have a ballast mount on the rooftop of the medical office building at 1330 Powell" that will be "less than 15' above the existing rooftop" to mount 2 microwave dishes, each 2-foot in diameter.

This is a continuance from January, when Cingular announced that Einstein was kicking their equipment off the hospital roof so the building could be demolished. They added the 2nd variance since then. It was supposed to be an "either/or" addition, but you can see it isn't--the variances are for different equipment.

To give you an idea how high 84 feet is, in the photo above, it would be higher than the trees. Completely inappropriate in a residential neighborhood.

The request begs the question, how temporary do they mean? If the hospital does come down, don't the antennas have to go elsewhere anyway? Why not find a new home for them now? How about atop the Human Resources Center at Dekalb and Fornance? That's higher and zoned differently.

2. T-Mobile Northeast is also seeking a variance to mount 6 antennas on the medical building at 1330 Powell. Their mount would have a top height of 106 feet, 6 inches! More than 20 feet higher than Cingular's proposed tower. The red line on the photo of 1st Presbyterian's steeple (the highest point on our skyline) shows about where the 100 foot mark is. Look at how much higher that is than even the church roof. Our usual 3 story houses are less than half that height.

Again, why not put them on the Human Resources Center building, or some place more appropriate?

Or Einstein could halt their insane plan of demolishing the hospital and the antennas could stay put, which would make more sense.

So come to the Zoning Board Hearing tonight and hear all about it. If you live in that neighborhood, especially, you should come and voice your opinion. You were concerned about property values at last Thursday's meeting. I can't imagine that these cell towers in your collective front yard will help the value of your homes.

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