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Bentonsport residents still frustrated with cell tower
USA Created: 19 Jul 2007
BENTONSPORT — Keep your money: We want our view back.

Residents say tower destroys town's historical integrity.

That was the message from this week’s meeting in Bentonsport where area residents expressed their continued frustration with an i wireless cell phone tower that was erected nearly two years ago.

“We have nothing against technology,” said Bill Printy, one of about only 20 people who live in Bentonsport.

But when it detracts from the beauty — and the historical nature — of his town, he said he became concerned.

“National historic districts are special places and they should get special consideration when doing something like this,” he said.

The tower is a visual shock, he said, in a town careful to avoid such modern conveniences as outdoor ATMs and pop machines. The tower was erected nearly two years ago on a bluff that lies roughly 500 feet from the historic Presbyterian church — a building considered by many residents to be the main landmark of the community.

“Our office is concerned, too,” said Barbara Mitchell, with the State Historic Preservation office. “It’s a visual impact; [Citizens] would like to have cell phone service [but] the primary concern is the location of the tower.”

She said Bentonsport was one of the first Iowa historic districts to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Printy, the town blacksmith, said he’s put up buildings, but said he built them “to look 100 years old” so they fit in.

“When I came here as a property owner 30 years, I knew I had an obligation. We’re trying to preserve the historic integrity of this little community,” he said.

All telecommunications projects are required to get approval from the state historical office, and i wireless did that, said Mitchell, and they received their approval. But their application now looks like it was missing some key information, Printy and Mitchell both said.

“This project came through our office but the submittal did not give us a full [understanding] of the visual impact,” Mitchell said.

In 2005, as the tower was going up, she started trying to contact i wireless, and when construction did not stop, she contacted the FCC.

“It is our understanding the FCC is looking at this [issue],” she said.

Their historical preservationist, Mitchell claims, has now agreed with the state office: The tower should not be there. No decision will be made by the federal government, though, until the recommendation of the preservation officer is voted on by the “full commission” of the FCC, she said.

Federal preservation officer Steve Delsordo in Washington D.C. was unavailable for comment Wednesday. Calls to a spokesperson for i wireless were not returned by press time Wednesday.

Printy had tried contacting the FCC on his own, finally getting through with the help of Mitchell and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Printy said the meeting included the suggestion of “mitigation,” in which i wireless would make a donation to the town.

“They would like to do something to help us with historic preservation. But the consensus was we don’t want money. We want the tower dismantled and moved to where it can’t be seen from the historic district,” said Printy. “The people at the meeting didn’t want to talk about a payoff, they wanted to talk about moving the cell phone tower. We don’t want to mitigate. We want the tower gone.”
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Source: Ottumwa Courier, MARK NEWMAN, 18 Jul 2007

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