Cell phone tower controversy in Redding

Oct 15, 2014 8:48 PM

A proposal to build a cell phone tower near Sequoia Middle School in Redding is meeting with some heated opposition.
This, after a recent decision by the city planning commission that would allow the project to move forward.

Action News Now spoke with a few residents in the Garden Tract neighborhood across from the middle school -- one of them a mother -- who says she will enroll her children at another school across town if Sequoia decides to erect a cell phone tower on its property.

"Schools are here to serve our kids...to give them a healthy and safe environment to learn...not to profit from a corporation."

Rebekah Gartin, a former teacher and now a mother of four, says the thought of having a cell phone tower on a school campus is alarming.

"I'm not against cell phone towers...just don't put them where people live, work and go to school."

Cell phone carrier AT&T wants to build a tower disguised as a pine tree inside the school's maintenance yard owned by the Redding School District, to improve coverage and data in the surrounding area.

According to the planning commission's chairman John Ryan, that proposed tower would be about 350 feet away from the nearest classroom at the middle school.

Gartin cites health risks as the reason for why she doesn't think it's a good idea to place a cell phone tower at a school.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health states there are possible risks from electric and magnetic frequencies coming from cell phone towers, but more studies need to be done.

"If they decide to build a cell phone tower, that is not a place I want my children."

But having a cell phone tower on school grounds isn't something new -- UPrep for instance -- has two cell phone towers on top of their stadium lights.

Monique Gaido, Chairwoman of the Garden Tract Society, says it's not just about health concerns -- she says AT&T can find more appropriate locations around Redding for a cell phone tower.

"Build a cell phone tower where more people can benefit from the revenue, such as Tiger Field or the police station..."
But the planning commission says under federal law, they can't deny a carrier's request to build a tower based on health risks.
Bottom line, Gaido and Gartin say the school is likely to lose students and teachers if the tower is erected.

"I trust school district to make best decision for their school."
"I don't want my kids to be guinea pigs..."

In a phone interview today with a school district official, Action News Now learned there were no immediate plans for the board to discuss building a cell phone tower -- when asked how much revenue Sequoia Middle School will receive if a tower was erected -- the district said it did not have an answer.


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