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Blue Ridge Summit residents speak out against cell tower

May 15, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The cell phone tower proposed in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., could withstand winds up to 115 mph before the steel would start to fail, an independent engineer testified Wednesday.

That would drop to 105 mph if the tower were coated in ice, according to Joshua M. Carney, a representative of C.S. Davidson Inc.

"Back in the early '90s ... I think they said it got up to 90 miles per hour," said Elaine Gladhill, a Washington Township supervisor who lives on the mountain.

Questions about structural issues and the tower's base dominated a several-hour hearing Wednesday in the township. Liberty Towers of Rockville, Md., has proposed an approximately 200-foot tower at 15387 Jacobs Church Road, not far from Pa. 16.

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A piece of ice breaking off the tower could travel 200 feet in 40-mph winds, said Bruce Stegman, a Red Lion, Pa., engineer working with Liberty Towers.

Township officials asked whether that meant, theoretically, that a piece of ice could hit a passing vehicle on heavily traveled Pa. 16. Stegman's answer was "yes," although he reminded them that ice can form on power lines and signs.

"No one has ever encountered a situation where ice was a problem (on a monopole)," Stegman said. "This tower presents no additional problem with ice than any other structure."

Several residents disagreed strongly.

"Do we have any evidence at all with towers and ice in our area, not talking about power lines?" said Micheal Bonarrigo, a resident of Pennersville Road. "Power lines move, and it's tough to form ice on something that moves."

Township Manager Mike Christopher and Solicitor John Lisko recommended the supervisors hold a third hearing to give residents an opportunity to review and comment on new documents presented this week.

"Whatever decision the township makes, I don't want a judge saying six months or a year from now that you didn't give these residents a fair hearing, due process," Lisko said.

"I'm in my 80s and feel entitled to participate in this," said Mary Rae Cantwell, of Monterey Lane. "I'm not opposed to cell towers, but I think this is a lousy location for this. ... It's too close to that highway."

The hearing continued beyond press time.

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