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Raleigh residents oppose cell tower, approval process

Posted April 9, 2012

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— Some Raleigh residents are criticizing the legal process the city uses to approve the locations for cellphone towers.

From his backyard near Dahlgreen Road, Joe Smith can point to the spot where a 180-foot AT&T cellphone tower will be springing up above the trees.

Smith said he got a letter that the Raleigh City Council would discuss the proposed tower site.

“I was expecting it just to be a sit-down with City Council discussing with a possibility of placing a tower in my backyard,” he said.

Instead, Smith said, he and his neighbors walked into a quasi-judicial hearing that Raleigh and many cities use to make land decisions.

During the hearing, which is more like a court proceeding than a council meeting, AT&T contractors offered up expert witnesses and evidence, something the residents said they couldn't afford.

“I’m trying to figure out how to pay for siding on my house. I can’t go hire an attorney or pay for an expert witness,” Smith said.

Raleigh residents oppose cell tower Raleigh residents oppose cell tower

Kevin Rogers, the homeowners’ association president for Smith's neighborhood, said he “was really shocked.”

“I’ve been to a lot of City Council meetings, and I’ve never seen City Council sit as judge and jury for anything before,” Rogers said.

Neighbors said they also had concerns about how people were notified.

Smith got a notice because his backyard abuts the property being considered for the tower, as did a homeowner whose fence runs along the property line. People who live nearby and will be able to see the tower from their porches weren't notified because their backyards don’t touch the property.

North Carolina State University political science professor Andrew Taylor argues that the process is unconstitutional.

“Anyone, in order to participate effectively, must put up thousands of dollars to hire an attorney because the process shuts them out,” Taylor said.

Shut out is exactly how Smith says he feels.

“We already have the transmission lines, and adding a cell tower is going to make it look industrial,” he said.

On Tuesday, Raleigh City Council members plan to review how the city uses the procedures and whether more residents should be notified and given more time to respond.

That won't help Smith and his neighbors, however. They have 30 days to appeal the approval of the cell tower.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Ouiser Apr 11, 2012

    'Seems like there should be an ordinace to ban loud car stereo's after 11pm.'

    there probably is an ordinance, but like many others, good luck enforcing that. unless the police are gonna sit in the neighborhood waiting for loud cars to drive by to catch them...right.

  • Capt Mercury Apr 10, 2012

    Welcome to the new America where money talks above all fair judgement. The rich get tax cuts, oil companies get tax dollars, and yet people still vote for capitalists and industrialists to run our government. I don't get it.

  • southraleigh Apr 10, 2012

    Exactly. It doesn't matter if it was a cell tower, power lines or a lollipop tree. The problem is that you're having a hearing where realistically one side has a chance of presenting a case. In this case you have a jury (the city council) that writes the law (city code)and appoints the judge (the city attorney) and gives the petitioner unlimited time to prepare their case. The adjacent owners have 3-4 days notification that there is even going to be a hearing. Finding out there's a hearing doesn't really even help since they aren't aware of what a quasi-judicial hearing entails. During that 3-4 day time period you basically have to hire an attorney and prep evidence for a case.

    The process is flawed reagardless of the case details.

  • dmccall Apr 10, 2012

    I think the point of this story is how the Raleigh City Council handled the complaint of a resident.

  • Double07 Apr 10, 2012

    NIMBY....Quazi Legal means you better not get up and say something unless you have proof of credientials to back it up, just because you dont like it you better not get up and say it affects land value unless your a real estate professinal or appraiser....

  • Double07 Apr 10, 2012

    People dont understand that they dont own ALL the land around them, what part of that is so complicated? I dont have the power to tell someone living beside me what color to paint their house, nor should I have the ability to decide what an ajoining land owner can or cant do with his/her land? Some people....

  • Krimson Apr 10, 2012

    This guy wouldn't be complaining if the tower was built on his land and he was collecting the rent money...

  • busyb97 Apr 10, 2012

    I he lives next to high tension lines, that cell tower is just icing on the cake. I had friends who had a meter to check the levels of (?? Cant think of the unit they were measuring, but it represented the "bad stuff" you didnt want, I know, sounds real intelligent :)!). Anyway....the safe levels was below 2.5. Their house had 4.0+ by day and 2.5-3.0 at night, when power usage goes down in the lines. They lived a block away from them. One of their kids had been having unexplained symptoms. Needless to say, they moved away from those things. Living near a cell tower wouldnt make me happy either, but i dont see how you have much argument with high power lines in your back yard. I bet they were there first.

  • homebrewer Apr 10, 2012

    He should be happy. He'll actually be able to get 5 bars on his iPhone.

  • no taco p Apr 10, 2012

    They have a cell tower that looks like a pine tree in Wakefield also. It's on the main drag, between the YMCA and the schools. So the do go up in high income areas, and they can make them look better than the older towers.