Proposed Verizon cell tower at Arcadia church divides residents, parishioners

Wearing a green shirt Tuesday night at the Arcadia City Council Meeting meant you were against putting a cell phone tower on church property.

"I dislike the idea of having a 5-story building in a single story residential area," neighbor Debbie Priester said.

Priester, who lives near the proposed tower and is with the group Arcadians Against Residential Towers, has been fighting the proposal since last year.

The planning commission has denied carrier Verizon's application twice. Now Verizon is appealing to the city council saying it needs the tower to fill a gap in it's LTE coverage.

"The more we reviewed the application the more we found that there's actually plenty of coverage here and it's actually pretty good coverage," Eli Tsou of Arcadians Against Residential Towers said.

The proposed tower would sit on the southeast corner of the church's parking lot. Disguised as a bell tower, it would stand 53 feet tall and take up three parking stalls.

Beyond the size, neighbors have another gripe.

"It's a 53 foot tower that's within a few dozen yards of a preschool playground as well as an elementary school classroom," Tsou said. "The proximity to that is what a lot of parents don't feel comfortable with."

Reverend Julie Bryant, who serves as Rector of the Church of the Transfiguration, said the tower is safe.

"We ourselves did research into the health and safety concerns and were satisfied that it's appropriate," Bryant said.

The Episcopal Diocese, which approved the project, believes the tower design blends with the existing chapel on site.

The church has faced criticism for profiting off renting the space to Verizon at $2,000 per month, but Bryant said that would go back into the community.

"While the income would come to us it would not be ours to have and to hoard, but rather to give," she said.

The city council was expected to vote on the issue Tuesday night, but could take until the end of the month to finalize its decision.

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