I got another lesson in how our country works or in some ways fails to work last night. I belong to a church that was approached by cell phone giant T-Mobile more than two years ago. The rapid increase of cell phone use had driven the need for a cell phone tower in the vicinity of the church. T-Mobile had searched the area and contacted local businesses to no avail. However at the top of the dead zone they were looking to fix was poised our church property. Our Pastor went to all of the appropriate groups both inside and outside the church and they approved the concept. As a fixture in our community for the last 160 years the prospect of E-911 calls dropping was a powerful inducement. While the church will derive some rent from the tower I genuinely believe that with T-Mobile up against a wall the church agreed given its humanitarian role in the community.
T-Mobile went out to pursue the appropriate approvals. That’s were the trouble started. Across a busy four lane thoroughfare from the church is a community of modest single family homes. One man in that community of 90 houses made defeating this effort his personal crusade. He had a minor partner in a woman who normally appeared with him, but her contribution was rarely as nasty or heated as his vitriol. Quite frankly, I was always surprised when she forgot to wear her tin-foil hat.
I can’t for the life of me understand their problem with the tower. One of the benefits of the extensive community outreach that T-Mobile did engage in was that the normal “single mast” design bristling with cell phone transponders was replaced with a lovely tower on three legs with faux bells and panels that screen the ugly antennas. Rather than an ugly functional tower this bell tower design will fit in with the other building on the property – the church. It will be tall – at 110 feet it will rise 30-40 feet above the existing tree line. In order to see the bell/cell tower the resident in question will have to look over a solid six foot high board fence, across a four-lane busy thoroughfare, up through existing power lines, and into a stand of 70 foot pine trees. I think the guy is a vampire and he’s worried the cross on the tower will keep him indoors.
Two years! These two knot-heads held up this project for two years! Now this project won’t make much of a bump in the unemployment numbers – but you have to wonder – how many other projects are being held up? Building a three leg, 110 foot tower, with associated telecommunications equipment shelter, the site preparation and landscaping makes for a pretty good slug of work. In the current environment you might think that governments would push this kind of thing along.
However it does make one think about how two people can stand in the way of a common sense project that involves the public safety and is supported by a church with several hundred members. I might understand if we had been pitching a plan for 24 hour gas station or an X-rated movie theater – but we weren’t.
Government of the people, by the people, and for the people shouldn’t come to a halt to satisfy the whim of two knuckleheads. Our County Board of Supervisors voted last night unanimously in favor the project - Bravo.