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LETTER: School board should reject Rectortown cell tower proposal

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LETTER: A letterbox with the inscription Letter to the editor

Many people are not aware that the Fauquier County School Board is considering having a cell tower erected just behind Claude Thompson Elementary School in Rectortown. This will yield payments to the school. 

There are many issues here weighing against the project. 

I understand that the proposed site is in the Cromwell's Run Rural Historic District. Also, it will be near a scenic byway,Rectortown Road. 

Several residential properties are very close to the proposed tower site. The Environmental Health Trust has research on its website (ehtrust.org) supporting the idea that cell towers reduce the value of nearby real estate.  

Lastly, and most importantly, there is considerable scientific evidence that radiation emitted from cell towers can cause serious illness, cancer, etc. (See related research at the Environmental Health Trust.)

The neighbor kids would be closest to the tower and the school kids, not far away. 

The telecommunication carriers and tower companies dispute a negative health impact, contending that they comply with all current FCC standards. This may be true. The problem is the FCC standards are very old (from 1996) and apparently do not reflect current science. This issue of whether or not to update the standards is now being litigated in federal court.

Exposure to the school kids and staff every day and to the nearby neighbors, raises serious questions as to the risk of disease for them. 

I understand -- according to some experts in integrative medicine -- that persons with compromised immune systems, Lyme disease, etc., are especially vulnerable to the radiation and may be more susceptible to electromagnetic hypersensitivity, cancer, etc. 

In fact, one neighbor suffers from EMH  that her doctors say is the result of having lived near a cell tower. She had to retire prematurely and is on disability. She very likely will need to move if this tower is approved. 

Punch line: Is it worth taking the risk of hurting the kids and our neighbors for a bit more cash for the school and much more for the tower company? 

The telecom carriers lobby strongly to keep the old standards. 

What is inconceivable, is that the federal law requires that governing bodies not consider health impact on the community when they award tower permits. Sadly, this may apply to the board of supervisors, which would have the final say on a tower project. But before that, the school board, with a special duty to provide safe facilities for the kids, could reject the tower. 

If the school board lawyers are concerned about the possible application of that hideous constraint, the school board can ignore the health issue and cancel the project based on the other compelling issues: … diminution of property values, impacted viewsheds, tainting an important historic district and scenic byway, etc.  

This is serious business. 

The next school board meeting is set for June 14 at 6 p.m. It will be at Fauquier High School. 

Folks need to register with the school board clerk for citizen time. This can be done online at the website (fcps1.org) or before 6  p.m. on the sign-up sheet at the meeting. Each person will be given 3 minutes to speak.  The phone number for the school board is 540-422-7000. 

If you cannot make it to the meeting, you can express your feelings in writing directly to our school representative, Suzanne Sloane (Scott District). Her contact info is: suzanne.sloane@fcps1.org. Her office number is 540-316-7323. 

The only way this is to be blocked is if the community steps up to help our neighbors and lets the school board know the depth and extent of its feelings as to the inappropriateness of this tower in Rectortown. 

Yes, there is a need for cell towers for rural service but not from sites where so many community assets are imperiled.  

If you would like more information as to the science and the negative experience with other tower projects at schools, the Environmental Health Trust, (EHTrust.org) is a great resource. 

Henry W. Lavine

President, The Friends of Rectortown, Inc.

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