Monday, June 13, 2011

Board of Ed to Approve Cell Towers at 6 Schools

On June 16, 2011, the Montgomery County Board of Education will approve new construction on 6 cell towers on public school property. 

The Board will approve new construction and new easements for outside commercial entities at:

Daly Elementary School Playground
Daly Elementary School in Germantown (You'll remember Daly ES, that was the school where the PTA and the neighbors opposed the placement of the cell tower but Superintendent Jerry Weast placed the tower there anyway.)

Einstein High School in Kensington

Magruder High School in Rockville

Springbrook High School in Silver Spring

Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg

Wheaton High School in Silver Spring

Note that by hiding these decisions on the Board's Consent Agenda and by labeling the vote "utility easements" this is the only public vote that the Board of Education takes on these commercial construction projects on public school playgrounds. 

The Board of Education will not be approving new construction at cell towers on Whitman High School, Wootton High School, Walter Johnson High School, Julius West Middle School or Pyle Middle School grounds because those communities were opposed to the placement of a commercial structure on their school sites and the Board of Education responded to their advocacy.

And in late breaking news, the Board of Education will not be approving a cell tower for the Sligo Middle School playground because T-Mobile has withdrawn their request for that construction project after the community intervened in the proceeding before the Montgomery County Board of Appeals. 

4.2.3 Daly

Hit me with a comment

  1. Well. I did some fact checking. The tower at Daly ES is an eyesore. However all of the other towers are existing, and I believe they are mounted to stadium light poles.

    There are NO NEW POLES going up with this action at Thursday's meeting. It only permits Comcast to run underground cable in parallel to the existing T-Mobile easements.

    In fact, the easements may be granted and not used for a number of years, but the county & carrier must deal with the local community when it comes to the construction and placement of the poles. The specifics of the agreements for these are available if you contact the facilities division of MCPS.

  2. 1. These towers are all getting NEW construction at their bases. That includes a new cabinet that may or may not fit on the compound. No details are available for the public on that construction. You can call the Tower Commission for more detailed information on cell tower compounds.

    2. These Board of Education votes give a NEW commercial vendor access to public school property and to facilities used by public school children. What security measures will be in place for this new vendor? The Board of Education won't - and hasn't - discussed this security issue. These Consent Agenda votes represent the ONLY time that the Board of Education votes on the placement of cell towers.

    3. "must deal with the community?" A complete joke. Case in point, Sligo Middle School neighbors had no idea a cell tower compound was about to be constructed when the Board of Appeals was TOLD that ALL of the approvals from MCPS and community were in place.

    4. Want to find out why the predominance of cell tower compounds are at Silver Spring public schools? Where was the community involvement in those placements? When were the Board of Education votes? You can compare and contrast the notification to Silver Spring neighborhoods with the community involvement in the placement of cell tower compounds at Whitman HS, Wootton HS, WJHS, and Pyle Middle School.

  3. Consent Agenda means that the Board of Education members will NOT discuss these votes. Consent Agenda means they ALL already consent to these items.

    No point talking about a plan to allow strangers on to playgrounds.

  4. I was told by the person that handles the cell tower facilities today that there would be no new construction. There are towers on these properties now. This is only for underground cabling running parallel to the Verizon easement, and a simply transfer of the easement, and the addition of another entity so that the T-Mobile equipment can be serviced by another company.

    It may mean that Verizon will stick some radios up on the existing pole, though.

    After my 5th reading of the resolution, I understand it to explicitly state underground cable. My guess is that Comcast will dig, run cable to the tower, and use the existing data frame to get service up to the radios.

    I do want to respond to the safety and security issue. I was told that the vendors were required to check in at the school, and that they must comply with the same state requirements that any person working on school property must follow. My understanding is that this is focussed more on the "child predator/sex offender" group. I didn't ask about the "drug merchant" group.

    However, I too get the same impression as well that the lower eastern part of the county is treated differently than some of the more affluent school clusters (the Bethesda/Potomac area.) The schools that are getting these extra easements are not considered as strong performers, and certainly don't have the deep PTSA pockets as the ones that the BOE walked away from.

    My understanding is that the individual school gets a 1/3 share of the lease revenue as compensation. It's certainly not a windfall by any means, but for parents that cannot raise mega-money at their local school's annual "gala and silent auction". I would think something is better than nothing.

  5. By the way, I do want to thank you for your efforts here. I'm not a BOE employee. We are a new family to MCPS, and I'm finding it takes a lot of energy and effort to learn about the programs MCPS offers, and how to acces them.

    I also find it frustrating that it looks like the BOE is trying to avoid fully disclosing some of its process/actions.

    More frustrating is the appearance that the more affluent areas seem to have stronger and more responsive leadership in their individual schools than the less affluent. (I can think of ONE exception to this statement, and that is why my child attends that school.)

  6. "I was told by the person that handles the cell tower facilities today that there would be no new construction."

    Please name who you spoke to about this. What person, what agency?

    This is not correct information. New vendors will be placing new cabinets. There will be new construction and new workers on the site. That's why they are being given an easement. These easements give these commercial vendors exclusive access to public school sites.

    And no, they don't check in at the front office. You can read the transcript in the Sligo Middle School Board of Appeals case about how the commercial vendor went right on the property without ever checking in at the front desk of the school.

    And you can talk to Daly Elementary School about the problems they have had with the vendor just driving right on to the playground during recess.

    Understanding about money? This is a public school system. The money - where it goes and how it is spent is public information. Where in the MCPS BUDGET is this funding disclosed?

    Oh, it's not. That's called a SLUSH FUND.

  7. With regard to the Resolution that the placement of these cell tower compounds and the easements do not "affect any land that could be used for school programming or recreational facilities" - that's an absolute false statement. One look at Daly ES confirms that these cell tower compound placements DO take away from school land that has been dedicated to public school children.

  8. It won't take long before these towers are ultimately recalled and torn down. Several generations of sick children will pay the price for these corporate crimes -- and for some of the teachers that never leave -- their health will suffer mercilessly.

    Headaches, concentration difficulties, skin rashes, abdominal, eye and jaw pains, extreme explosive irritability, depression, anxiety, sleep issues. That is where it begins.

    Yes...some people don't know this -- but their ignorance does not make them correct.

    These people all found out the hard way. Read some of their case histories:
    (A "Mast" is a Cell Tower.)

    Of course, it was all prevetable, for the scientists figured all this out already.

    For all you skeptics, read the published science.

    The industry is lying about the safety of these towers.

    The science is here:

    I shall pray for the students, teachers and staff -- and all of the surrounding neighbors.

  9. Just a clarification, Einstein High is in Kensington, Md. Thanks for keeping everyone apprised of these situations..

  10. Hi, It's the first Anonymous (again).

    I spoke with Mary Pat Wilson in the facilities office. She read the section of the agreement that stated this would be underground construction only. (Basically the new vendor digging a trench, and running cable, then filling the trench.)

    Ideally the digging, backfilling and reseeding will be completed before the fall.

    It would have been nice if the proposed agreement was made part of the resolution that was posted.

    As for the radiation issue raised by the other Anonymous: while I'll buy into the study's conclusion, however, I think you'd be surprised where microwave and cell radios are hung even outside of this issue with MCPS. I think you will need to create a larger groundswell to get everyone to pass on mobile/wifi networks before anything is done. Look at buildings on hills, even apartment buildings, hospitals, on light poles at the local mall, water towers, professional stadiums. Granting access for towers, radios, and even the cables that run between office building floors is an easy source of revenue for landlords. (no complaining tenants.)

    Once again, and sincerely, I appreciate the efforts of the Parents Coalition in pulling information so it's easily available for us.

  11. @3:20 That information now contradicts the information from 1:22 that said the easements may not be used for years. And the 3:20 information contradicts what is known at the Tower Commission.

    Please see the transcript in the Sligo Middle School Board of Appeals matter for more on the representations of MCPS' facilities office.

    All this construction will be completed by the fall? Really? That's news and far from the issue of a NEW COMMERCIAL VENDOR being given 24/7 year round access to public schools.

    Also not mentioned in the above comments is that cell tower compounds are HAZARDOUS MATERIALS location and must be registered with the Montgomery County Fire Department but ONE VENDOR REFUSED to register for YEARS. But let's not talk about that. Let's ignore that the base of these towers is a dangerous location and that one of the vendors refused to comply with County law. Call the County Attorney and find out what they had to do to get that one vendor to comply with County law.

    How much did taxpayers have to spend to get this vendor to comply with the law?

    Let's also ignore the obvious maintenance issues that have been documented at Daly ES for one, for years. Daly ES has also documented the commercial vendors coming on to the playground DURING RECESS to service the cell tower compound without notification to the school. Again, see the transcript in the Sligo MS BOA matter for more on vendors not checking in at schools.

    Lots of issues surround the presence of a commercial operation on a public school playground.

    ZERO discussion of ANY of these issues by the Montgomery Count Board of Education.

  12. Last but not least, the State of Maryland is investigating the placement of cell towers on MCPS property because those locations have NOT been paying property taxes.

    Oops. Again, how much are taxpayers paying to investigate and get MCPS and these vendors to follow the law?

  13. BOA
    OZAH 11-17
    Board of Appeals: Sean Hughes, Attorney for T-Mobile Northeast, LLC, and Montgomery
    County Board of Education request a special exception pursuant to Section 59-G-2.58
    (Telecommunications Facility) of the Zoning Ordinance to permit:
    1. A telecommunication monopole with a height of 130 feet, plus a 4- foot lightning
    conductor, with panel antennas mounted on the monopole.
    2. A screened 80-foot by 30-foot equipment compound.
    3. Three equipment cabinets placed on a concrete pad within the proposed compound.
    The equipment cabinets measure approximately 63 inches high, 51 inches wide, and 37
    inches deep and will sit atop the equipment pad measuring approximately 20 feet in
    length and 10 feet in width.
    4. The equipment cabinets will be secured by an 8-foot chain link fence.
    5. Hours of operation: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
    6. Facility to be unmanned with visits to the site only for emergency repairs or regular,
    scheduled maintenance visits 1-2 times per month.
    7. A reduction of 26 feet in the setback from the east property line to locate the support
    structure in a less visual location.
    8. A warning sign not to exceed two square feet will be mounted to the installation.9
    The subject property is located at 1401 Dennis Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland, 20902, in the
    R-60 Zone. Tax Account Number 00954241

  14. search School Cancer Cluster


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