News for Iberia

People say no to tower
Iberia Created: 10 Feb 2009
JEANERETTE — A group of Jeanerette residents are saying no to the construction of a cellular phone tower in their neighborhood.

The proposed construction of a cellular tower at the corner of Guillotte and Fifth streets drew a crowd to City Hall to voice their concerns Monday night over health and safety issues.

More than 370 residents within a two-and-a-half-mile radius of the area signed a petition in opposition of locating the tower so close to a residential area.

The tower would be constructed by Insight Towers, formerly GenCom, and located on the private property of Joe LeJeune.

Grady Patterson, spokesman for the group, said there are concerns of the health effects from the emissions of Frequency/Microwave Radiation that could possibly be harmful to local residents.

“There has not been any public hearing on this issue,” Patterson said. “Studies have shown these waves can accelerate the growth of cancer cells. We have two people with pacemakers, some recovering from stroke and others from cancer who live within 150 feet of the location. There has not been any assessment of the impact on the community.”

Mayor Arthur Verret said the construction of a tower at the proposed location was not something the city initiated.

“This is between a private company and landowner,” he said. “They are not asking to construct the tower on city property.”

This was the second time residents voiced opposition to a tower location within the city. Last June, city officials voted against GenCom’s proposal to locate a tower on city property located on Hebert Street.

City Attorney Raymond Allain said the city did not have the authority to prohibit construction of a tower on private property.

“There is no zoning ordinance or any ordinance that would prohibit the construction of a tower within the city,” said Allain.

Allain said the board could consider adopting an ordinance prohibiting the location of a tower within the city limits, but factual proof would have to be shown that the tower is a nuisance.

Following a lengthy discussion, board members agreed to take no action until a public hearing could be held with a representative of Insight Co., residents in opposition and an objective third party knowledgeable on the radiation emissions.

Alderwomen Vernell Mitchell, Aprill Foulcard and Betty Bouie all voiced concerns over the location of a tower in the middle of a residential area.

“There is a way to put it, but we don’t have to place it so close to a residential area,” Bouie said. “Fifty feet is just too close to a home.”

Alderman Sandy Derise said he strongly supported the construction of a tower within the city to promote economic growth and development.

“I feel so strongly about it, I would put it in my own backyard,” he said. “If we adopt this ordinance, we will be the only city in the state of Louisiana that will not allow cellular towers.”

In other business, the board approved the purchase of a new fire truck at a cost of $388,055. The 2009 Freightliner truck will have all the latest equipment, according to Fire Chief Mitch Dubois. Dubois said the department is currently operating with only two trucks and one is a 1979 model that is no longer dependable.
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Source: Daily Iberian, KARMA CHAMPAGNE, 10 Feb 2009

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