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Neighbors speaks out against proposed cell tower site

Several East Grand Forks residents voiced opposition to the proposed construction of a monopole cellphone tower at Valley Golf Course on Tuesday. The tower location was proposed in a special use application submitted to the City Council by Verizo...

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East Grand Forks City Hall. Herald Stock Photo.

Several East Grand Forks residents voiced opposition to the proposed construction of a monopole cellphone tower at Valley Golf Course on Tuesday.
The tower location was proposed in a special use application submitted to the City Council by Verizon Wireless and Valley Golf Course. During a public hearing held by the City Council, Eddie Buell, a site development agent representing Verizon and Valley Golf Course, opened by sayng the proposed tower location was the most optimal for cellphone coverage. Buell also said the tower location adhered to all city codes and requirements.

"This application has been reviewed and discussed by the planning commission, who recommended approval for this special use permit back on Nov. 9, 2017," Buell said.

Buell, along with Garrett Lysiak of Owl Engineering & EMC Test Labs-also said the tower would not diminish property values for nearby homes.

Dan Parker, whose home is nearby the proposed location, disagreed.

"I can state for 100 percent fact that is not the case for my house," Parker said.

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Parker, whose home is on 21st Street N.W., is east of the proposed tower location "about 200 or 300 feet."

According to Parker, when the tower location was proposed, real estate agents advised him to lower the asking price on his house by $10,000.

"To state that this is improving my property value is absolutely false. It is hurting it," Parker said.

While Parker questioned whether the proposed location of the tower was necessary, considering other possible locations previously under consideration, City Attorney Ron Galstad said that other locations would not satisfy Verizon's request.

"Based upon the location of the need, a tower a mile and a half or 2 miles or 3 miles away doesn't satisfy the need for coverage where Verizon is asking for it," Galstad said.

Gerard Neil, a lawyer at the Neil Law Firm in East Grand Forks, was the next to voice his opposition. Speaking for almost an hour, Neil picked apart the special use application section by section. Neil cited numerous concerns he saw with the proposed tower location, including potential hazards associated with radiation emitted from the tower.

Though Buell and Lysiak had stated the radiation levels were not dangerous, and provided studies that illustrated this assertion, Neil says there are also studies that refute this claim.

"Time will tell. It has to be live human subjects that will be exposed to the radiation," Neil said.
A council vote to deny or accept the special use application for the tower is scheduled for March 27.

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