To the Editor: No Tower at WAHS

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When I read Mike Marshall’s March editorial in the Gazette that explained the “Federal Communication Commission rules prevent local governments from considering the possible health affects from cell towers when making decisions about approving them” at our CHILDREN’S school, I was shocked.

I started researching and reading articles—some that were very concerning and others that claimed cell towers are safe. I also reflected upon when cigarettes and thalidomide for morning sickness were considered safe and I realized as a mother of three (one in elementary, middle and high school next year) there simply doesn’t exist definitive data that would assure me that my children will be safe with this cell tower next to them for most of their waking hours.  

We know that cell towers and electrical lines negatively affect property values. Also,  I believe the biggest reason people move to Crozet is for our schools.  Will they want to move here with a school(s) that has a cell tower?  The fact that they CAN’T consider scientific information that exists tells me that SOMEONE is more concerned with protecting business interests and growing an industry than they are about my and our community’s children’s well being.

The height of the proposed tower, 145 feet, is more than 80 feet above the trees around it. It will be fully visible far more than it is screened. This is completely contrary to our county ordinance for tree top towers which specifies that towers should be 7-10 feet higher than the reference tree.

This tower will be visible from White Hall to Batesville, Afton to FoxChase.

If approved, the applicant could also raise the tower twenty feet without further permission, making it 165 feet tall and about 100 feet in full view.

The Supreme Court of Virginia has upheld the Albemarle ordinance based on visibility and aesthetics. These rules are within county authority to uphold.

So what now?  Parents WERE able to successfully block the proposed cell tower at Stony Point Elementary.  We need to flood the CCAC,  Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission with emails, postcards, or letters (whichever is easiest for you) and simply let them know that we are NOT okay with a commercial entity profiting at the expense of our children. The Board of Supervisors should protect both established community ordinances AND our children by voting no to granting this waiver to build cell towers at our schools.

It’s also worth noting that WAHS and other county schools are wired for fiber optics—which means they can communicate faster than most of Crozet on school-provided laptops. I have heard the argument made that parents are concerned about reaching kids at school.  If I need to communicate with my children, they have laptops in class and can easily receive an email or message.  Also, I am hearing from teachers that cell phones are providing unecessary distraction in class.  At a recent Screenagers documentary screening at Sutherland Middle, I learned there is a correlation between an increase in anxiety and depression and kids’ use of cell phones.  They are also using them to avoid dealing with uncomfortable situations directly.  All of this tells me as parents, we need to have more community discussion about our use of cell phones and technology.

The applicant deferred their application recently and I don’t believe resubmittal for a summer hearing is accidental.  They are hoping to get this approved while parents are off guard and on vacation.   If you google cell tower applications, you will find article after article of them being blocked by active parents and approved where there is a lack of opposition.  We need to commit to stopping cell towers at schools THROUGHOUT Albemarle, Nelson and Augusta.  They aren’t good for our kids here and they aren’t good for kids at any other school.  I urge all concerned citizens to stand up for our kids.  I hope you will join me in contacting the CCAC, Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors asking them to NOT support this cell tower application that will affect our children for decades. For more information, I recommend searching the Crozet Gazette archives and contacting [email protected]org, [email protected], and [email protected]

Amanda Alger
Crozet

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