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Companies Seek New Crossfield School Spot for Cell Phone Tower

Proposed cell tower (tree) at Crossfield ES/Courtesy VerizonTelecommunications companies are looking for a new place on Crossfield Elementary School’s grounds to build a 138-foot tall cell phone tower after local officials rejected their initial location for the structure, Fairfax Connection reported.

The Hunter Mill District Land Use Committee voted 3-2 on Nov. 15 to turn down an application by Milestone Communication and Verizon Wireless to construct the tower 150 feet away from a playground on the school’s property at 2791 Fox Mill Road.

The new tower is necessary to fill in gaps in cell coverage in the areas off Lawyers Road, including Fox Mill Woods, according to Milestone.

“Sometimes the first place we select is not the best location,” Milestone President Len Forkas Jr. told Fairfax Connection. “Our goal is to always find a solution.”

Community activists, who run the website StopTheCrossfieldTower.org, attended community meetings earlier this month to point out what members of the group called “discrepancies” in the companies’ application. The activists have claimed that the tower’s proposed site was actually about 60 feet from the playground, not 150 feet as the application indicated.

The locals said the closeness of the proposed tower to the playground left them with many concerns. At Crossfield, the tower would look like an evergreen tree and carry signals from five mobile carriers. It would sit within a 2,500-square-foot area surrounded by an 8-foot fence.

“There is no definitive science proving the radiation emitted from these towers is safe. We’re not willing to risk our children’s health for $189 a month from a cell-tower owner,” they say on their website, referring to the rent Fairfax County Public Schools would reportedly receive from Milestone in exchange for placing the tower on school property.

A YouTube video by “Concerned Parent” shows Crossfield students holding cards saying they do not want to be part of a living study on the effects of long-term exposure to radiation from cell towers.

Milestone currently operates at least 20 cell phone towers on other campuses in the Fairfax County school district, including South Lakes High School in Reston.

Photo via Milestone Communications

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Crossfield Cell Phone Tower Decision Will Wait Until Nov. 16

Proposed cell tower (tree) at Crossfield ES/Courtesy Verizon

The process to decide whether a 138-foot tall cell phone tower can be constructed at Crossfield Elementary School has been stalled.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission, which held a public hearing on the application by Milestone Communication and Verizon Wireless on Sept. 28, was slated to render a decision on the issue Wednesday, pending the opinion of the Hunter Mill Land Use Committee. However, the land use committee deferred decision, so now the issue will have to wait.

The issue is back on the planning commission docket for Nov. 16. The planning commission will either recommend the project for approval or denial; the application then goes to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for final approval.

Many Crossfield-area parents spoke out — as they did before the planning commission in September — at the land use committee meeting Wednesday.

The parents say radiation exposure 127 feet from the elementary school’s playground provides an unacceptable risk for the students, among other concerns. They also said on Wednesday that the Fairfax County Public Schools Facilities Department did not follow policy and overlooked multiple errors in the application.

A county planning staff report recommends approval of the application, which Milestone says is necessary to fill in gaps in coverage in the areas off Lawyers Road, including Reston’s Fox Mill Woods neighborhood adjacent to the school.

The pole, which would be built to look like an evergreen tree, would be able to carry signals from five mobile carriers. The pole would be on a 2,500-square-foot area surrounded by an 8-foot fence.

Fairfax County Public Schools have towers on more than 30 properties, the vast majority of them are high schools and middle schools (including South Lakes High School in Reston).  The cell phone companies pay the landowners to lease the pole space. FCPS, for instance, has made more than $4 million from the arrangement over the last several years, FCPS officials said.

Milestone collects rent from the wireless carriers on its towers, 40 percent of which goes to FCPS. Schools receive $25,000 each time a tower is built, and then $5,000 from each wireless carrier that leases space on the tower.

Photo: Proposed cell phone tower at Crossfield Elementary School/Credit: Milestone Communications.

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Cell Phone Tower an ‘Unacceptable Risk,’ Parents Tell Planning Commission

Proposed cell tower (tree) at Crossfield ES/Courtesy VerizonAn elementary school is no place for a cell phone tower.

That was the message more than a dozen concerned neighbors and parents of students at Crossfield Elementary School told the Fairfax County Planning Commission in more than two hours of testimony Wednesday night.

A county planning staff report recommends approval of Milestone Communications’ application (on behalf of Verizon) for the tower, which they say is necessary to fill in gaps in coverage in the areas off Lawyers Road, including Reston’s Fox Mill Woods neighborhood adjacent to the school.

“This plan introduces an unacceptable safety risk,” said Chris Aiello, representing Parents Advocating for Safe Schools in Fairfax County, a grassroots group recently formed to take on Verizon’s request.

“It directly interferes with future expansion of school and fields. The applicant failed to meaningfully explore other sites. It defies logic placing a 138-foot tower 127 feet from a school.”

The pole, which would be built to look like an evergreen tree, would be able to carry signals from five mobile carriers. The pole would be on a 2,500-square-foot area surrounded by an 8-foot fence.

While the pole will be in a wooded area more than 200 feet from the school, the location is only 127 feet from the Crossfield playground, many citizens pointed out.

The pole will rise about 80 feet above the natural tree line, which Aiello called “a visual albatross.”

Other parents and neighbors had similar concerns. More than 30 Fairfax County Public Schools, including South Lakes High School, have cell towers on their property. However, only one FCPS elementary school has a tower, planning staff said. Parents said they are not willing to let their young children be test cases for radiation.

The cell phone companies pay the landowners to lease the pole space. FCPS, for instance, has made more than $4 million from the arrangement over the last several years, FCPS officials said.

Milestone collects rent from the wireless carriers on its towers, 40 percent of which goes to FCPS. Schools receive $25,000 each time a tower is built, and then $5,000 from each wireless carrier that leases space on the tower.

Other speakers said they were concerned the fenced tower enclosure would be everything from an “attractive nuisance” for pranks to a target for hackers.

Lisa Namerow, a nearby resident with a child set to enter Crossfield next year, said she is concerned about home values, among other things.

“The affected community is deeply opposed,” she said. “Research shows proximity of cell towers has a negative effect on homeowners.”

The planning commission also heard testimony from two Fox Mill Woods residents who said they cannot get coverage in their homes and the tower is needed.

Planning commissioners had questions on other high-tech ways to fill in coverage gaps (they would not work in this case, Milestone reps said) to the possibility of building the tower on Fairfax County Park Authority land nearby.

In the end, the planning commission deferred decision until Oct. 19, after they can get more information from the county’s Hunter Mill Land Use committee. The land use committee meets on Oct. 18.

Photo: Proposed cell phone tower at Crossfield Elementary School/Credit: Milestone Communications.

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Crossfield Parents Plan Protest of Proposed Cell Phone Tower

Proposed cell tower (tree) at Crossfield ES/Courtesy Verizon

A Fairfax County Planning Commission staff report recommends approval of a proposed cell phone tower to be built on the grounds of Crossfield Elementary School off Fox Mill Road.

Milestone Communications (on behalf of Verizon Wireless) is seeking to build a 138-foot tall monopole on the grounds of the school. The pole, which would be built to look like an evergreen tree, would be able to carry signals from five mobile carriers in order to fill in gaps in coverage. The pole would be on a 2,500-square-foot area surrounded by an 8-foot fence.

Crossfield Map/Credit: Milestone CommunicationsThere will be a planning commission hearing on the application on Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center.

This is the second time in the last three years Reston-based Milestone has proposed a monopole at Crossfield. The company had a similar application in 2013, but withdrew it based on objections from residents.

Residents are perhaps even more upset at the latest proposal. They have organized a petition, put up a “Stop The Crossfield Tower” website and plan to testify at Wednesday’s hearing.

Says the petition:

The cell tower proposed for Crossfield Elementary is not needed — a ‘significant gap in coverage’ does not exist in this area, as defined by Federal requirements. Eighty-two (82) towers are active within a 4-mile radius of the site — and the poor cell reception within the school and in nearby homes can be fixed with inexpensive signal boosters.

Cell towers near elementary schools concern home shoppers enough to lower property values, and they are an eyesore even when disguised as “trees.”

In addition, there is enough scientific uncertainty about the health risk cellular radiation poses to small children that we must protect these kids rather than ignore the evidence and be sorry later. This school has 3- and 4-year-old preschoolers who could be exposed daily to this radiation for nine years. No studies to date have been done on children to measure the effect of long-term exposure to non-ionizing radiation (the type emitted by cellular towers).

The World Health Organization cautions to avoid exposure to non-ionizing radiation as a cancer prevention strategy. We must be proactive in protecting our families, financially and physically, by eliminating this unnecessary risk.

Find a different place to put this tower! We, the local residents and school parents, DO NOT want it.
The neighbors have also sent letters to school and county officials.

There was also a proposal by AT&T and Milestone for a pole at Hunters Woods Park, a Reston Association property, in June of 2014. The RA Design Review Board nixed the idea of a 115-foot pole in the woods behind a soccer field.

But many poles have been built on to public lands in recent years. South Lakes High School, Herndon Middle School, Madison High School and Carson Middle School are among the many FCPS properties that have cell phone towers on their grounds.

The cell phone companies pay the landowners to lease the pole space. FCPS, for instance, has made more than $4 million from the arrangement over the last several years, FCPS officials said.

Milestone collects rent from the wireless carriers on its towers, 40 percent of which goes to FCPS. Schools receive $25,000 each time a tower is built, and then $5,000 from each wireless carrier that leases space on the tower.

Milestone says schools and parks are ideal locations for these towers because they often have existing structures, such as field light poles, in place.

FCPS has cited studies on cell phone towers being located on school grounds and says the practice is safe.

The Crossfield parents disagree.

“Our elected Fairfax County Officials are ignoring their constituents and choosing to support a third-party vendor relationship (Verizon/Milestone) over the safety of Crossfield and Fairfax County children for less than $200 a month for the school,” Crossfield parent Lisa Namerow said in an email to concerned parents.

“And FCPS has plans to do it at many other FFX County schools — over 90 schools on the “list. … We don’t want the tower to be placed next to the playground and by the kids’ walking path to school. There are multiple risks (safety, school ratings decline, impact on property values). FCPS is the landowner and has the power to pull the application.”

Photos: Renderings of look and location of proposed cell phone monopole at Crossfield Elementary School/Milestone Communications.

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Crossfield ES Cell Tower Plan Will Have Public Hearing in September

Proposed cell tower (tree) at Crossfield ES/Courtesy Verizon

Updated: The public hearing has been moved to Sept. 28 (it was originally reported to be Sept. 15

The plan to build a cell phone tower disguised as a tree at Crossfield Elementary School in Oak Hill will go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission in September.

Verizon Wireless is seeking to build the tower at the Fairfax County Public Schools’ elementary school at 2791 Fox Mill Rd. on the Reston/Oak Hill line in order to improve cell phone coverage in the area.

Verizon is working with local firm Milestone Communications to get approval to build the 138-foot tower and improve cell phone reception in the area.

The request to build the pole comes about three years after a similar proposal fell apart in the application process. T-Mobile and Milestone filed an application in November of 2013 seeking to build at Crossfield. The request was postponed indefinitely.

There is organized opposition to the construction, just as there was in 2013. A group of residents has organized an online petition.

Says the petition:

The cell tower proposed for Crossfield Elementary is not needed — a ‘significant gap in coverage’ does not exist in this area, as defined by Federal requirements. Eighty-two (82) towers are active within a 4-mile radius of the site – and the poor cell reception within the school and in nearby homes can be fixed with inexpensive signal boosters.

Cell towers near elementary schools concern home shoppers enough to lower property values, and they are an eyesore even when disguised as “trees.”

In addition, there is enough scientific uncertainty about the health risk cellular radiation poses to small children that we must protect these kids rather than ignore the evidence and be sorry later. This school has 3- and 4-year-old preschoolers who could be exposed daily to this radiation for nine years. No studies to date have been done on children to measure the effect of long-term exposure to non-ionizing radiation (the type emitted by cellular towers).

The World Health Organization cautions to avoid exposure to non-ionizing radiation as a cancer prevention strategy. We must be proactive in protecting our families, financially and physically, by eliminating this unnecessary risk.

Find a different place to put this tower! We, the local residents and school parents, DO NOT want it.

The neighbors have also sent letters to school and county officials.

There was also a proposal by AT&T and Milestone for a pole at Hunters Woods Park, a Reston Association property, in June of 2014. The RA Design Review Board nixed the ideaof a 115-foot pole in the woods behind a soccer field.

But many poles have been built on to public lands in recent years. South Lakes High School, Herndon Middle School, Madison High School and Carson Middle School are among the many FCPS properties that have cell phone towers on their grounds.

The cell phone companies pay the landowners to lease the pole space. FCPS, for instance, has made more than $4 million from the arrangement over the last several years, FCPS officials said.

Milestone collects rent from the wireless carriers on its towers, 40 percent of which goes to FCPS. Schools receive $25,000 each time a tower is built, and then $5,000 from each wireless carrier that leases space on the tower.

Milestone says schools and parks are ideal locations for these towers because they often have existing structures, such as field light poles, in place.

FCPS says it has has done studies on cell phones being located on school grounds and has determined the practice is safe.

The planning commission meeting is Sept. 28 at 8:15 p.m. There will be a public hearing portion. To sign up in advance, visit the planning commission website.

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Verizon Considering Cell Phone Tower at Crossfield Elementary

Crossfield Map/Credit: Milestone Communications

A cell phone monopole is back in play for Crossfield Elementary School.

Verizon Wireless is seeking to build a cell phone tower at the Fairfax County Public Schools elementary school at 2791 Fox Mill Rd.

Verizon is working with local firm Milestone Communications to get approval to build the pole and improve cell phone reception in the area. The proposal is for a 138-foot tower disguised to look like a tree.

The request to build the pole comes about 2 1/2 years after a similar proposal fell apart in the application process. T-Mobile and Milestone filed an application in November of 2013 seeking to build at Crossfield. The request was postponed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, there was organized resident opposition to the 2013 proposal, including a petition signed by fewer than 200 people. Residents said there was already a cell phone tower nearby, that the tower would affect home values, and that cell phones should not be allowed on elementary school property because studies showing longterm health effects are inconclusive.

There was also a proposal by AT&T and Milestone for a pole at Hunters Woods Park, a Reston Association property, in June of 2014. The RA Design Review Board nixed the idea of a 115-foot pole in the woods behind a soccer field.

But many poles have been built on to public lands in recent years. South Lakes High School, Herndon Middle School, Madison High School and Carson Middle School are among the many FCPS properties that have cell phone towers on their grounds.

The cell phone companies pay the landowners to lease the pole space. FCPS, for instance, has made more than $4 million from the arrangement over the last several years, FCPS officials said.

Milestone collects rent from the wireless carriers on its towers, 40 percent of which goes to FCPS. Schools receive $25,000 each time a tower is built, and then $5,000 from each wireless carrier that leases space on the tower.

Milestone says schools and parks are ideal locations for these towers because they often have existing structures, such as field light poles, in place.

FCPS says it has has done studies on cell phones being located on school grounds and has determined the practice is safe.

Have some thoughts on a pole for Crossfield? A community meeting has been scheduled for May 19, 7 p.m., at the North County Government Center, Hunter Mill District Office, 1801 Cameron Glen Dr.

Map of proposed cell phone tower location/Credit Milestone Communications

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