Opponents rally against Basalt cell equipment | AspenTimes.com

Opponents rally against Basalt cell equipment

BASALT ” A controversy over erecting telecommunications equipment on an important natural landmark in Basalt returns to the Town Council for a decision Tuesday.

Sprint/Nextel received initial approval on Nov. 13 from the council to install equipment on B-Hill, which looms over the town’s east end, near the cemetery. The company needs a second approval for the project. The proposal was favored by a 5-2 vote in November.

Neighborhood residents have rallied opposition since the last meeting and will try to convince the council members to reject the application.

Sprint/Nextel wants to place six antennas on the hill to improve its coverage in the Roaring Fork Valley. Three support structures will be constructed, each supporting two antennas that are five feet high. The height of the support structures vary because of the slope.

One support structure would be incorporated into the design for the holiday star that is lit above town during winters. The other two clusters of antennas and support structures, called sectors, would be camouflaged with fake trees that are supposed to resemble the natural vegetation on the hill. The faux trees will vary in height to make them seem more natural.

Basalt resident Jen Cramer is circulating a petition to oppose the equipment. She plans to submit the petition to the council. About 30 form letters opposing the antennas also were mailed to Town Hall.

Cramer said her research indicates the health effects of cell towers are unknown. Several studies suggest a link between the towers the brain tumors, cancer, miscarriage and other serious illnesses.

One study warned about prolonged exposure to radio frequency radiation for people within a radius of 600 meters from the equipment. The Basalt Middle School, Arbaney Park, the municipal pool and parts of Elk Run subdivision all fall within that distance, Cramer said.

Federal law limits the power of municipalities to consider health issues when reviewing telecommunications equipment. The town staff said that Sprint/Nextel should be required to have radio frequency radiation measured by an independent third party on a regular basis and results reported to the town government. The company should be required to meet the Federal Communication Commission’s standards on radiation the staff proposed.

The public hearing on the issue is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Basalt Town Hall.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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