JACKSON TWP. — Several residents voiced their opposition Monday morning to the township supervisors signing a land lease agreement with Verizon Wireless last month for a potential cellphone tower at the township’s storage facility off Heritage Drive.
A dozen residents attended the meeting with some concerned the cell phone tower could be located close to a residential area.
Township attorney Jeffery Malak confirmed the supervisors signed a land lease agreement with Verizon Wireless that would give the township an additional $19,800 a year in revenue with a 3-percent increase each year.
The land lease agreement does not mean Verizon Wireless can put up a tower. Verizon Wireless still has to obtain a land development permit and zoning permit, Malak said.
“This is step one,” he said. “Just because the lease is signed does not mean it is going up. It is up to Verizon to submit the applications.”
Malak added that as of Friday, the township has not received any permit requests from Verizon Wireless. He noted Lehman Township and Larksville Borough have signed similar land lease agreements with Verizon Wireless.
“They are looking for ways to expand their coverage,” Malak said.
This did not alleviate fears.
Living 200 yards away from the proposed site on Oak Drive, Bob Blazaskie asked supervisors if they considered the effect the cellphone tower would have on property values and health hazards.
Having done online research, Blazaskie found property values near the towers dropped between 2 percent to 15 percent.
He asked supervisors to do their “due diligence” and research what potential health hazards there are related to living close to a cell tower.
Erin Lamoreaux and her husband, Curt, presented supervisors with 155 names on a petition of people against the cell tower. “We went to 101 doors,” she said. “People were sickened, crying and other turned chalked white,” she said.
She told supervisors the Federal Communication Commission has taken radio frequency RF under re-evaluation as a possible carcinogen. “I do not believe $19,000 is compensation enough,” Lamoreaux said.
Chris Hanley asked supervisors if there were any serious budget issues that created a need for this money.
Supervisor Al Fox said costs for paving and plowing roads, a 24-hour police force and other services are always rising, and the board tries to review all sources of revenue to keep taxes down for residents.
“We do not have any serious budget issues but try to keep the taxes down,” Fox said. “I do not think it would be wrong or due diligence on our part if we did not look at all avenues of revenue, and this was one of them.”
Hanley then asked if the cell tower is turned down, how would it affect taxes.
Fox answered there could be an increase of approximately 8 percent to 10 percent, which, with a current mill rate of 1.58, would result in an additional $2 a month.
“I would be willing to pay an extra $24 at the end of the year instead of having a cell phone tower,” Hanley said.
Residents in the audience murmured in agreement.