Residents attend meeting to protest plans to build cellular phone towers

Fears of radiation, drop in property values voiced

August 26, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,SUN STAFF

More than 50 residents showed up at a meeting with Sprint PCS representatives at the Westminster library last night and loudly protested plans for construction of four cellular towers in the county.

The towers would be located in Allan Baugher's orchards in Westminster and New Windsor, at the Beard Farm at 1706 Sullivan Road, and the Hoff Farm at 2815 Tracey Mill Road in Westminster.

They are among eight towers in Carroll County that Sprint, a telecommunications company, is proposing. If approved by the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission, some towers could begin functioning as early as January.

Residents voiced fears of radiation, unsightly towers in the rural landscape and a decrease in property values.

"I am fearful for my animals," said Terri McIntyre, who lives on a small horse farm off Pleasant Valley Road outside Westminster. "There are unknowns regarding health effects."

McIntyre, who works for a Baltimore insurance company, said she first heard about the towers yesterday morning. Once she found out one could be built 900 feet from her house, she began contacting national groups who have studied claims of radiation from towers and conducting research on the Internet.

Before the meeting, McIntyre said she planned to listen to what Sprint representatives had to say, but would maintain skepticism.

"All the information I have looked at so far shows more research needs to be done about the electromagnetic radiation," she said.

The four Sprint representatives sought to ease the fears of the standing-room-only crowd.

Jack Andrews, a zoning attorney for the telecommunications company, patiently listened to the crowd and repeatedly said that "we [Sprint] comply with all federal regulations."

Andrews and other Sprint representatives added that no proof exists that the towers are health hazards.

But health issues were only part of Karen Belinko's concerns.

"There are appropriate locations for this, and this is overkill for Sprint's profit margins," said Belinko, who lives near the proposed site at Beard Farm.

Residents also criticized Baugher, a well-known Westminster farmer who has signed contracts with Sprint to lease some of his land for two towers and who was at the meeting.

"I certainly don't want to do anything if I know in my heart that I am hurting people," Baugher told the crowd. "Up until now, I didn't think there was any reason for the public to think like this."

Baugher said he has signed leases with Sprint and plans to use the money to help pay off mortgages on his property.

Pub Date: 8/26/99

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