Originally reported by The Dubois County Herald. May 25, 2017
By ALLEN LAMAN
FERDINAND — After a lengthy discussion at Wednesday’s Ferdinand Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve a special exception to allow the placement and operation of a sic.[Central States Tower] Verizon telecommunications cell tower on the property located at 1371 E. Holiday Lake Road.
Before approved, residents voiced concerns relating to aesthetics and possible adverse health effects that could come with the tower, as well as fears relating to the possible damage it could have to property values.
The 290-foot, self-support tower — which will be owned and maintained by Central States Towers and transmit frequencies within the licensed frequency bands and power limitations set by the Federal Communications Commission — will be constructed on a piece of land on Eugene and Imelda Mehling’s property. It will sit about 400 feet away from the right of way of East Holiday Lake Road.
Site Development and Zoning Manager Nathan Meyer of PBM Wireless Services, LLC, represented Verizon and Central States Towers at the meeting, and explained that the tower will fill a coverage gap in the area. He said that facilities already exist on the south side of the town, but said the north side is currently left unserved.
“The purpose for a new site in the area is to address that coverage gap,” he said. “It’s important to note that the main reason the site is exactly where it is located here is so that we can meet all the setback standards of the Ferdinand zoning ordinance. This location does just that.”
Holiday Lake Road resident Randy Gehlhausen expressed concerns with the project. He said he is the closest landowner to the tower, and argued that the location is less than optimal because it is in a grade and not on a hill and is too close to homeowners.
“When I built there, I built there because there’s a beautiful view out the front,” he said while presenting a mock image that showed what the tower might look like from his house. “Do I have to move now if I want a decent view? (I’m) 60 years old, I don’t know if I can start all over again.”
Gehlhausen also said that Verizon already has the best service in the area. He said building the tower is unnecessary, adding that he gets coverage in his basement without it. He said he talked to a realtor who told him his property value would drop and that it would be more difficult to sell his home if the tower is built.
According to The Herald archive, residents voiced concerns in September 2015 regarding aesthetics and potential safety problems the tower could present for pilots flying near the Huntingburg Airport.
Meyer said Wednesday that the group had received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration at the tower’s proposed height and determined that it will be no hazard to air navigation.
Attorney Matthew Price of Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP represented the petitioners at the meeting and said the construction of a cell tower cannot be denied on the perception of a health effect, explaining the federal government has conducted studies and determined that there are no adverse health effects associated with the radio frequencies of the facilities.
He also noted that criticism of a proposal based on aesthetics is common, but not a substantial objection. He also cited a study conducted in Carmel that showed there is no differential in market value between a home located in close proximity to a tower and one located further removed from it.
“We have done this same study in various communities across the state of Indiana…but they all basically show the same thing,” he added. “In my experience, I’ve never been at a hearing where there’s been any credible study, appraisal, (or) market analysis that shows that a wireless facility actually does have an adverse impact on property.”
Price and Meyer also said the tower will bring increased triangulation that will be utilized when tracking 911 calls. Essentially, the new tower will better help EMS locate dialers based on their location in reference to towers.
While a concrete timeline going forward was not discussed, a letter sent from Verizon engineer Brian Robbins to zoning board secretary Don Foerster in April was presented at the meeting and said the site “will go through a complete rigorous regulatory process before it comes on-air to provide service to our customers.”