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Ruling on Rouzerville cell antennas could come soon

August 19, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Washington Township (Pa.) Supervisors expect to decide at their next meeting whether to approve a proposal for six cellular telecommunications antennas to be affixed to a water tank in Rouzerville, Pa.

The supervisors hosted several hours of discussion in Monday's continuation of a public hearing regarding Sprint PCS antennas proposed by Shenandoah Personal Communications Co./Shentel.

Matters concerning cell phone towers and equipment have dominated the supervisors' time in recent months. A few plans to improve wireless coverage in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., have been submitted for consideration.

"This should be a priority of the township. You need to get cell service in there and you need to get it now," said Stanley Besecker, who lives in the Woodcrest housing development

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He shared concerns about the possibility of calls failing during an emergency.

"Somebody could die in Blue Ridge Summit tonight if they try to call 911 with a cell phone," Besecker said.

Shentel asked to put the antennas 115 feet up the water tank between Pa. 16 and Old Route 16 east of Capital Camps.

The supervisors have asked their legal counsel to draw up necessary paperwork for approving the plan on Sept. 3. They said they will ask that the antennas be painted the same dark blue as the water tower and require written approval from the tank's manufacturer.

Shentel representatives said they have a lease agreement with the Washington Township Municipal Authority, which owns the tank. That calls for the company to pay the water authority $1,750 a month for 10 years to be followed by automatic lease renewals.

Shentel presented additional testimony saying that the structural integrity would not be adversely affected by ice from storms. Sean McFarland, municipal authority manager, wrote a letter to the supervisors, stating that his research indicated that radiation from the antennas will be directed outward from the tank and not affect the water supply.

"They produce a fraction of the microwaves that a household microwave oven does," McFarland wrote.

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