While AT&T hopes to gain approval to place a new cell phone antenna in a Gaithersburg park, some residents have raised health and property value concerns.
A public hearing was held Tuesday evening at City Hall to discuss AT&T’s request to add a cell antenna to an existing baseball field light post at Kelley Park, which is at 400 Victory Farm Drive. An equipment box would also be located on the ground.
Several years ago, the City Council approved a T-Mobile cell antenna on another baseball field in the park, but it sits far away from any homes and backs up to the woods, according to City Manager Tony Tomasello. As a result, the city moved forward with the proposal through a staff approval process.
“We decided to follow the more public process for the AT&T proposal because it’s higher up on the hill and much more visible to the surrounding neighborhoods,” Tomasello said.
Gaithersburg resident Christopher Calangan asked if city staff had studied the effects the antenna would have on property values. Tomasello said the city had not.
Vincent Luddy, another resident, said he worried about the danger of children being exposed to possible radiation from the antenna.
“You have the radiation factor from the pole,” he said. “You have small children. Small children have immune systems that are not developed. And those immune systems are much more susceptible to radiation than adults.”
Resident Stefania Luddy said she didn’t think the antenna should be located near residential neighborhoods because of the radiation emission.
“It’s a crime against humanity,” she said. “It’s too close to residential area. We will be bombarded by radiation.”
According to the American Cancer Society, most scientists believe that cell sites and antennas are unlikely to cause health problems.
Representatives for AT&T previously said that the new site will allow the company to offer stronger service in the area.
Should the project receive approval, Tomasello said AT&T would have to incur the construction costs and pay the city a rental fee, which typically averages between $1,800 and $2,000 per month.
The mayor and council could vote on the issue as early as late March, Tomasello said.