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.
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.
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.