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No Vote Yet on Cell Phone Tower at Prince of Peace Church

City Council tables matter until alternatives are explored

The vote on a proposed cell phone tower to be built at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church was put off by Westlake City Council at Thursday night's meeting.

Council members wanted more time for Verizon, which would be building the tower, to further explore alternatives sites away from residential areas. The planned tower would be 100 feet tall, and 300 feet away from the nearest residence.

The matter will be brought up again at the Jan. 17 meeting.

More than two dozen people showed up for the public hearing before the meeting.

Residents James Frankito, who lives a few hundred feet from where the tower would be built, told Council that he had spoken with a representative from the U.S. Postal Service, who told him on Wednesday they would be open to having another tower built at the Westlake Post Office.

Verizon attorney Bob Grant said that his company had explored possibilities including the Post Office and Westlake Porter Library years ago, but that those inquiries never got anywhere.

"At some point, we have to move forward," said Grant. "If we start over, people will be waiting years for good service."

Ward 4 Councilman Michael O'Donnell grilled Grant on why a tower was not done at Recreation Center Park. Grant said that there were engineering issues regarding the placement of equipment below the ball field light tower where the cell phone transmitter would be.

O'Donnell added that he spoke with Westlake Porter Library director Andrew Mangels, and that library officials were willing to negotiate.

Resident Laurie Frankito said that she was concerned if Verizon was allowed to do this, a precedent would be set that would tie the city's hands and allow other companies to build cell phone towers near residential areas.

Anna Giusto said she was concerned about the long run in terms of appearances on Center Ridge Road.

"Is Center Ridge Road going to be the dumping ground for things people don't want elsewhere?" she asked.

Not all residents who came to the meeting were opposed to the tower.

Ralph Ford said that, while visiting family at St. John Medical Center, he has been unable to get a cell phone signal.

"What if you're at the hospital and your loved one takes a turn for the worse, and you can't get in touch with family right away because you can't get a signal?" he said.

Another resident near the proposed tower said he needed a better cell phone signal for his work, as he is often on call. He also said a good signal was essential for emergencies, as more people give up their landlines.

"I fell down the steps at my home," he said. "I was alone. I had my cell phone with me, but I couldn't get through from my own home. Fortunately, my neighbors saw me and were able to help. But let's do this sooner or later for our own good."

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