City leaders, neighbors raise concerns about cell towers

Neighbors concerned over cell towers

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- Louisville city leaders could soon begin to reevaluate how cell towers are approved for construction following a slew of complaints from people who live near the structures.  

Fibertech Networks has been installing small cell antennas around the metro area for Verizon. The antennas, which look similar to utility poles, are built in areas where data hungry users need a better signal.

"It's a newer technology coming into the market. It is a very small footprint, low power solution so that the macro cell towers aren't popping up all over the neighborhood at 300 feet high," Joe Pellegrini of Fibertech, said, during a Public Works Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Representatives from Fibertech and Verizon attended the meeting where several council members raised concerns about the approval process for small cell antennas. Fibertech said Verizon selected 57 locations for the antennas to be built; each antenna serves a 1,000 feet radius. 

Metro Councilman Bill Hollander, D-Distict 9, said there needed to be more oversight when deciding where the towers are built. As it stands now, Fibertech must apply for permits through Public Works. Once approved the company has the green light to build--even in historic neighborhoods like Clifton. 

"The historic preservation officers had no knowledge of these poles being placed in Clifton, which is a historic preservation district, and I think Public Works acknowledges that this process probably needs to be looked at but it hasn't been up to this point," Hollander told WHAS11 during an interview Wednesday afternoon. "I think the most important thing is that we slow things down so that we look at what we're doing here."

Hollander said he would like to see the process become more robust to include more regulatory measures monitoring the planning, design, and location of small cell towers. He said the city should also require companies like Fibertech to give neighbors proper notice of the plan to install cell towers.

Pellegrini said on Tuesday that Fibertech notified people living near the cell tower sites of their plans by passing out informational door hangings. Several residents have complained about never receiving any communication from the company.

"We never got a notice. We didn't get anything. They were supposed to put door hangers up but no one in this neighborhood got anything to do with that," George Zeis, who lives near one of the recently installed antennas in Clifton, said. "We're not particularly happy with what they've done."

Zeis said he and his neighbors are worried the antenna could emit harmful radiation to surrounding homes. 

"The guy that actually installed it told one of our neighbors to watch the tops of the trees next year because they may be dying from radiation," Zeis said. "It's all about the health concerns. There's no evidence to support necessarily that the radiation thing is that much, but there's not enough denying it either. So we're not sure what we're getting ourselves into."






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