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No Vote Kilauea votes no to location of cell phone tower

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Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013 1:00 am

KILAUEA — The proposed AT&T cell phone tower in Kilauea should be reconsidered to another possible location, said nearly 70 residents at the Kilauea Neighborhood Association meeting Tuesday.

The KNA board agreed to submit a letter to the County Planning Commission that would take the same position in “voicing the sentiment of the majority of people in the community who are in opposition to the cell tower location.”

The decision came after most of the approximately 70 people present at the meeting voiced their opposition.

“Why not put the tower in the hills, where there is better reception and it is safer?” said Garretti Purdue, a resident of the area. “This tower violates zoning, and it is not appropriate to have it near playgrounds, schools and homes.”

The Kaua‘i County Planning Commission took no action Wednesday on whether to allow AT&T Mobility and its parent company New Cingular Wireless PCS to build an 80-foot cell phone tower in Kilauea.

William Keoni Fox of Ali‘i Wireless Specialists in Kane‘ohe arranged to speak with the KNA again after the Planning Commission took no action  on the permit request at its March 28 meeting. The initial outreach one year ago did not present substantial opposition, he said, but concerns now make it necessary to request the use permit, a Class IV zoning permit and a height variance.

The new tower would have a 900-square-foot compound on 13.2 acres, with electronic sheds and an emergency generator, with 12 panel antennas. It would sit 700 feet from Kilauea Lighthouse Road next to Kilauea Christian Academy, and 170 feet from the nearest property line.

The current site is not large enough to build a structure for 3G and 4G cell phone antennas and radios, Fox said. The current service covers a one-mile radius and handles 20 to 30 calls at a time, he said, while the new, low-powered service covers a three-to-five-mile radius.

Fox said the Japanese cemetery adjacent to the current tower has two existing phone towers and initially denied their request to build another. They are still opposed, he said, but they have agreed to reconsider the request.

The other option was to rent space on other existing cell phone towers, which either lacked space or did not want to add other providers, Fox said.

Several residents expressed health concerns with a tower in town. Some referred to reports from other states and countries that recommended much lower radio frequency rates than required in the United States.

The companies are operating within the Federal Communications Commission and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines and considered to be low-powered and safe, Fox said. If there is concern about the safety levels then that is something to take up with the FCC, he said.

Lori Patch said she is a cancer survivor and doesn’t want to have cancer again. She said reports of higher instances of youth leukemia after cell towers goes up concerns her to the point that she would move if the tower went up.

Patch said the testimonies regarding the 911 calls is misleading when the FCC requires wireless service providers to transmit all 911 calls, regardless of subscriber status.

Board member Rae Yadao-Butac said the 2011 minutes state that any proposal would be brought to the KNA before an application was submitted to the Planning Commission. That did not happen, she said.

“Does it matter what we think?” she said.

One resident said that a previous attempt to place a cell phone tower at a mini-storage was defeated. She brought information on how they defeated the effort based on electro-magnetic studies.

Other residents accused the company of mixing actual need with wanting to expand market-share as an excuse to build a new tower.

Some residents said they have AT&T and haven’t had any trouble making calls. Others said their signal is getting worse and they would switch service without the new tower. The next Planning Commission meeting is on Tuesday. It is unknown if the AT&T tower application will be on the agenda at this time.

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