Tuesday, July 11, 2017

MCPS Staff Says Cell Tower was Approved in 2007 and Infers that 2007 Approval Applies in 2017 #NeelsvilleMiddleSchool

Base of cell tower on MCPS playground.
On June 8, 2017, a parent and community meeting was held at Neelsville Middle School to discuss the application by a cell tower vendor to build a cell tower on the school's field.

MCPS Real Estate staff member Boyd Lawrence began the meeting by announcing that a cell tower for Neelsville Middle School had been approved by former Superintendent Jerry Weast back in 2007. During the course of the meeting, Mr. Lawrence would bring this point back up as if that prior approval was still valid in 2017.

There are just a few problems with Mr. Lawrence's reference to a cell tower approval by Jerry Weast ten years ago.

First, the proposal for a cell tower back in 2007, was for a cell tower that was 83 feet high.  The recent proposal for a cell tower at Neelsville Middle School is for a cell that that was 150 feet high.

Second, the 2007 application was made by Sprint-Nextel, while the recent application was made by Verizon.

The height of the cell tower is an important fact in the recent application as the proposed location of the cell tower would put it close enough to the school so that in the event the cell tower were to fall over, it would land on the school building.  The area around a cell tower where the tower could fall is known as the fall zone and is one of the construction features reviewed when a cell tower is proposed.

Video of the entire public meeting is below and you will hear multiple references to the 2007 application as if the cell tower then was the same one that was being proposed this year.  Toward the end of the meeting you will hear the vendor's representative divert attention from the 2007 application drawing that was enlarged on the screen.  Obviously, MCPS and the vendor did not want to point out that the 2007 drawing was for a different cell tower from a different vendor.  That fact was not revealed to the public at this meeting.

At the end of the meeting the Neelsville Middle School PTSA voted unanimously to oppose the construction of a cell tower on the school's field.

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