Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Petition Against Installing a T-Mobile Cell Phone Tower at Medlock Elementary

MANA is disseminating the following petition on behalf of its many neighbors' concerns over DCSS's cell tower proposal:

Signatures will be sent to the powers that be.

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We, the undersigned, appeal to the DeKalb County School System's Board of Education and to interim superintendent Ramona Tyson that you abandon the proposal to lease school ground space to T-Mobile for the installation of cell phone towers. In specific, we oppose the tower proposed for Medlock Elementary School in Decatur, GA. Our reasons are many:

- Medlock Park neighbors are dealing with a property value triple whammy:
* The closing of Medlock Elementary and loss of one of our neighborhood's selling points ("walk to school").
* A large, empty building in the middle of our neighborhood. We have no information of how the property will be maintained.
* The prospect of an inescapable 150-foot tall eyesore.
The specter of increased millage rates simply compounds the above.
- While DCSS stands to gain financially via a long-term cell tower lease, Medlock Park neighbors get nothing we want or need.
- Cell tower decisions should wait until DCSS's long-term plan is revealed in full. T-Mobile's financial targets and deadlines are neither Medlock Park's nor DCSS's problem.
- Neighborhood leaders have attempted to work with DCSS to find desirable tenants to lease the school building and generate income for DCSS. Although our efforts to help have been stonewalled, our offer stands.
- Leasing school property to cell tower companies does not address the source of DCSS's fiscal problems. We reject this "Band-Aid" approach as the distraction it is.

- Some neighbors worry about health impacts. So might potential leaseholders (in particular if their business tends to young children).
- We worry this is but the tip of the iceberg. If one tower makes money, why not two? What other businesses or structures are being considered? As long as the land remains part of the DCSS (i.e., government-owned), it remains exempt from zoning restrictions that protect neighbors.

- We have yet to see any environmental impact assessments. We are in particular concerned about the known dangers that communication towers pose to migratory birds. Does the site's elevation present additional dangers to birds beyond those calculated for a "typical" 150-foot tower? Medlock Elementary is located near water sources that attract birds, and is surrounded by multiple wildlife corridors and parks that provide habitat for many native bird species.

We hold and will continue to hold our DCSS and DeKalb County elected officials accountable, in particular as additional taxes are proposed for the November ballot (i.e., SPLOT).