I was distressed to read the cavalier responses some pastors gave in the recent In Theory question: “Are cell towers a part of God's call?” Few of the religious leaders questioned seem to understand the negative impact these towers could have on the community. Dr. Thomas of the Little White Chapel mourned the loss of T-Mobile's funding at his church because it would prevent them from creating possible college scholarships for deserving youth and other good works. While I applaud the church's ambitions and sympathize with their financial need, is has to be mentioned why the citizens in the neighborhood opposed the installation.
Aesthetic considerations are the least of it. We were also concerned about the existing code violations on the property, the potential noise pollution from the proposed 24-hours-a-day industrial air conditioners, the possibility of hazardous materials on site, and the certain depreciation in property values that come from installing these towers in residential neighborhoods. Most importantly, the tower would have been installed within one block of two public schools where children play.
The community was prevented from using health hazards as the primary source of opposition to the installation due to a federal statute from 16 years ago that was keen on quick expansion of cellular technology throughout the U.S. That statute is up for reexamination by the Supreme Court later this year.
T-Mobile's contract with the Little White Chapel neither acknowledged nor denied such health risks here, but held the company harmless if such dangers were someday found to exist. In that case, the Little White Chapel would have been liable for damages. So it's not simply a matter of looks or the objections of a couple of tree huggers we're talking about, but serious safeguards for the community, now and in the future.