Thursday, June 7, 2007

Second Verse: Cell Tower Controversy

The Rogers Planning Commission approved conditional-use permits for two cell phone towers this week, despite residential concerns about property values and possible health impacts of the towers, and there are more to come. Verizon Wireless is building an independent northwest Arkansas network that will likely include new towers in Rogers, Bentonville, Springdale, and Fayetteville.

One planned 90-foot-tall telecommunications tower disguised as a bell tower behind the Rogers Freewill Baptist Church, was dropped after crowds of angry neighbors waved protest signs, filled petitions, and packed City Council chambers during three Planning Commission meetings. The tower might be moved a half block away to the Rogers Public Library, which could benefit from leasing income.

Pastor Randy Burris of the Rogers Freewill Baptist Church sounded disappointed about missing out on the anticipated earthly riches of a $900 monthly lease and said the congregation was still eager to locate a tower on church property. “If it didn’t satisfy the neighbors here, I don’t know why they’d put it a half block away,” he said. “We saw it as a service to the public and a chance to help our ministry.” Uh huh. Preacher Burris sounds like Mayor Coody.

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