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T-mobile cell towers being considered for 9 DeKalb Schools (;


Sunday, August 28, 2011 7:18 AM

Dear Planning & Development of DeKalb County, We are DeKalb County residents who are very concerned about a recent lease agreement we think was signed by the members of the DeKalb County School Board. just prior to the new superintendent being announced and hired to head up our failing and irresponsible system. We have waiting for a year and a half for the simple announcement of a candidate that would not be scared off by press leaks and character attacks by the very board members who should have been acting responsibly to restore the public's trust in the leadership after we learned that our last superintendent and others were quite possibly involved in several illegal activities using our taxpayer dollars for personal gains while our children and schools have been largely neglected. The respect and good reputation of our county, our government employees and our educational system have been rightfully questioned and we, the taxpayers and residents, have suffered steady losses as a result. Perhaps when we try to speak out, our voices are too small. We resemble other disputes before you where an unlucky few did not get the dice to roll their way. Maybe "our county" or "our school system" just sound like they contain larger legions of support than the number you might imagine on the side of "the taxpayers," "the residents" or "the parents." So, please allow us to put a human face on the consequences that we are facing: 1.) We have all seen our home values drop significantly. 2.) One of our homes lost more than $75,000 or about 40% of its value according to the most recent tax assessment. 3.) One of us has seen too much neglect at their public school that they felt they had no choice but to take on a second job and tranfer the child to a private school. 4.) One of us has given up on plans to start a college savings account with the state's Path to College 529 Plan because the money is needed for a private school due to safety concerns not addressed at the local school level. 5.) Several of us have received phone calls from other parents stating disbelief and anger that we did not inform them of the decisions being made. Since it was assumed our titles within groups like the PTA or the School Concil would have given us fair warning to take action in our schools. Sadly, we have all been misled and none of us has had enough time to stop or even provide input into the decisions of the school board.

6.) Another parent fought during a difficult divorce to keep a child in the neighborhood school. Rather than being able to focus on what is best for the child, the parents may have further battles ahead due to the school board's decision which opens the door for new issues that were not previously discussed in court. 7.) One of us is a hard-working single parent who tries hard to stay involved in their child's school, but has time conflicts that prevent attendance at school board meetings or after school functions. This parent had no way of knowing about serious issues that were voted on during the short time frame that school was out for Summer. 8.) We all have personal accounts of bulling at school and we all have seen our children's classmates completely change from one year to the next leaving our children unhappy becuase hopes of lifelong friendships are beinig stolen from them. 9.) We have all witnessed the number of uncertain parents trapped in a system with so little confidence in its own neighborhood schools that they believe the only choice is to transfer somewhere else and hope it is somehow better 'over there.' 10.) We all want something better and yet we continue to get more of the same. We are unhappy and this subject takes up a large portion of our convesations at home, at work and with our friends every single day. Yet, we feel powerless and frustrated and we want things to change. We are working toward change by speaking to each other. We are also talking to our neighbors and other taxpayers who do not have children in the public school system. Their rights are being ignored even beyond ours because they are completely unaware that ths school board's lack of attention on the core business of education is what is a major cause of their inability to sell their homes, hire decent employees, find decent jobs or even retire on schedule. We are a growing group of residents who have come together to form groups like Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter and the Parents for DeKalb Schools. We are meeting, talking and we are planning to take our complaints to whomever is necessary in order to get some answers. We want to find out where our government is failing because our elected officials are not listening to us, not asking us about what we think before taking votes on topics that directly affect our way of life and the future of our children and we are no longer a small sample of the population that can be set aside to deal with later. The more we talk to each other, the more we are learning - we are not alone. In fact, our complaints are the same ones that others have. And, in fact, the viewpoints expressed by the school system are only reflective of the board members themselves and those they may directly influence. During the short time frame that existed between the vague and low-profile announcement that was made regarding a proposal to put cell towers at 12 DeKalb County Schools, one family felt obligated to reach out to the community near Brockett Elementary School to ensure the residents immediately surrounding the school property had been notified about the plans. What we learned was shocking. The residents who would most likely suffer declines in their property values and who would be facing daily issues with construction crews and maintenance workers allowed on school property 24/7

had not received any notification whatsoever from the school. A petition was started and 100 names were delivered to the school board prior to their July vote. You may read the comment they made here, under the "petition" tab. These online signatures were combined with ones gathered on paper: Brockett was removed from the list, along wth Meadowview and Medlock Elementary Schools based on community outcry in these areas. But, these were the exceptions. These schools involved only one or two individuals that were paying enough attention over the summer, when school is not in session, to realize immediate action was needed. The other 9 schools heard little or nothing about the cell tower plans until the vote was over and the lease was signed. Since the school board has several rules that were not followed or discussed, we do not believe this was an authorized lease agreement. We appeal to you, the DeKalb County Planning & Development Group, because we believe that our concerns will be your concerns, too, if we will just be permitted an opportunity to present them to you. One of our parents has given up a significant portion of time to study this issue as fully as possible and has learned about the tactics that T-mobile has used to try to sneak cell towers onto school properties across the country. Sometimes they have been successful at rushing through the process, using loopholes, faulty data, incorrect drawings and outdated plans not even up to current construction codes. They leave as quickly as they arrive, and resident who pay taxes to support the very ground that T-mobile starts building in are left in shock as they wake up to find a tower blocking their view of the sky, a sight that surely will be even worse in winter when their will be no leaves to hide the industrial structure. Residents are left to wonder why no one questions how T-mobile 'needs' another tower in an area already oversaturated with towers, like Briarlake, Lakeside and Margaret Harris. We do not want to be left out of this process. We want to bring to light the many issues that have caused other markets to deny permitting to T-mobile for the same violations we believe they will try to sneak past you. We have contacted our county commissioners and they have told us they cannot help. We have attempted to reach our county's CEO and have not heard any response. We have called, but we are only told to talk to our school board. We have tried to put the issue on agendas at our schools, but the school board members have refused and told us they will back out of the speaking engagement if we push the issue further. We have written to every board member, asking what we should do next if we want to be heard. What can we do to protest now, rather than hire attorneys down the road and attempt to have these towers torn down, resulting in a much higher cost to the taxpayers and government. We are already losing ground with the reduction in property values leading to a reduction in taxes collected for the county services. Lawsuits down the road could result in further loss to the county, similar to the way this very issue unfolded in Cobb County only a short time before the scenario was repeated here.

We have started a new petition, and this time it is in support of all schools in DeKalb County. We do not want to see cell towers at any of our schools, especially elementary schools and the schools that help the learning impaired. These children are put at greatest risk if cell towers are approved for their campuses because of their young age. We understand that the Federal Telecommunications Act of 996 does not allow a zoning board to consider health risks due to emissions under the federal guidelines. We are unsure how that rule applies when there is sufficient coverage in an area and the addition of towers is now having a combined RF emissions level that has not been reported. We do believe you can consider issues such as the "fall zone" and "setback requirements" when placing towers in areas zoned primarily for residential purposes. We do believe you must consider the traffic issues and the noise levels affecting quiet enjoyment of one's neighborhood. We do believe that you must consider not only the height of a tower and how it will fit or not fit into the zoned skyline, but also what is at the base of the towers, keeping in mind that the children who will be left many times for "free play" near these structures may not be supervised as closely and most likely will not be able to read or comprehend the messages posted on any warning signs. These areas are now being used by the public for recreational or educational purposes. The public may not understand the dangers that will be located in the same area which they now use for routine walks and other forms of exercise. Will they be safe from the potential of falling objects, like tools, broken equipment or debris in storms? Will the workers required to maintain these towers be vouched for by either party on the lease, or will the county be liable if a known sex offender is allowed on school grounds or a distraught parent attempts to abduct a child by posing as a tower worker? Will access roads require more county resources to ensure safety during school drop off and pick up times? Will falling ice in winter pose at threat of harm to traffic below, either pedestrian or automotive? Will there be someone to hold accountable is a gate is left unlocked or an item is not installed properly and falls off a tower? Do the reports of radiation at "ground level" suffice for where towers are normally sited, which is away from people and on the outskirts of commercial areas, not in the heart of single-family neighborhoods? Or should there be reports to include RF radiation at "roof level" since many people work on their rooftops or list roofing as their occupation in our county. And children have tree forts. The children at these sites do not own cell phones or use cell phones. They are not the same as the generation before them that has grown up with wireless devices and is placing demand on the cell carriers for more ways to send data, not just make an emergency call. More information has come to light since the wireless revolution started and these children are growing up with parents who are taking a much more precautionary approach in light of research finding and statements. Why should a group of individuals (the children) who will not directly benefit from the technology or from the income the leases provide (there are only references to the school board receiving the funds - not how any funds will be dispersed or utilized) be required by law to attend a school that is taking on a huge risk that could have a negative impact on their education and safety?

The school board may tell you that they held meetings and we didn't show up or didn't have any questions. Obviously, we do have a lot of questions, likely ones they haven't even considered or do not know how to answer. Ask any school board member to explain the electromagnetic spectrum to you or tell you why we need more towers and why the school makes perfect sense to them as a location that would help communication issues. Ask them to recite the policy about allowing a profit-making business to utilize school spaces. In fact, you can even look for that policy yourself except it has been removed from the school board website. It is one of many documents we have in hardcopy form and would like to present to someone who will see this issue from both sides, not just the side that has a lot of holes and unanswered questions. And if we cannot find an elected official or a county department to help us, we will have to find attorneys who will. And, now, we place the issue before you. Through our own efforts, we have located information online that we hope is correct as it indicates this issue will be set before you within the next 6 months. Can you please advise us on how this process works and the proper channels for us to follow in order to present our objections to you, not during the time of public comment when a decision is imminent. We want to be heard in time for your consideration of the facts. We believe you are the group who will be receiving the application for a Special Land Use permit, or possibly 9 separate land use permits for 9 schools: ******************************************* Briarlake Elementary School 3590 LaVista Road Decatur, Georgia 30033 Super District Representative Dr. Pamela A. Speaks (District 8) Primary District Representative Mr. H. Paul Womack (District 4) Shared District Representative Mr. Donald E. McChesney (District 2) **************************************** Flat Rock Elementary School 4603 Evans Mill Road Lithonia, GA 30038 Super District Representative Dr. Eugene P. Walker (District 9) Primary District Representative Mr. Jesse "Jay" Cunningham (District 5) *********************************************** Jolly Elementary School 1070 Otello Avenue Clarkston, GA 30021 Super District Representative Dr. Pamela A. Speaks (District 8) Primary District Representative

Mr. H. Paul Womack (District 4) Shared District Representative Mr. Thomas E. Bowen (District 6) Ms. Donna Edler (District 7) *************************************************** Lakeside High School 3801 Briarcliff Road NE Atlanta, GA 30345 Super District Representative Dr. Eugene P. Walker (District 9) Primary District Representative Dr. Pamela A. Speaks (District 8) Shared District Representative Mr. H. Paul Womack (District 4) Atlanta, GA 30345 Lakeside High School ******************************************************* Margaret Harris Comprehensive School 1634 Knob Hill Drive NE Atlanta, GA 30329 Super District Representative Dr. Eugene P. Walker (District 9) Primary District Representative Mr. Donald E. McChesney (District 2) *********************************************************** M.L. King, Jr. High School 3991 Snapfinger Road Lithonia, GA 30038 Super District Representative Dr. Eugene P. Walker (District 9) Primary District Representative Mr. Jesse "Jay" Cunningham (District 5) ************************************************** Narvie Harris Elementary School 3981 McGill Drive Decatur, GA 30034 Primary District Representative Dr. Eugene P. Walker (District 9) Shared District Representative Mr. Jesse "Jay" Cunningham (District 5) ******************************************************* Princeton Elementary School 1321 S. Deshon Road Lithonia, GA 30058 Primary District Representative Dr. Pamela A. Speaks (District 8)

Shared District Representative Mr. Thomas E. Bowen (District 6) ********************************************************** Smoke Rise Elementary School 1991 Silver Hill Road Stone Mountain, GA 30087 Primary District Representative Dr. Pamela A. Speaks (District 8) Shared District Representative Mr. H. Paul Womack (District 4) **************************************************** Please provide a written response that we can post to all of our members who are following this issue closely. And, if anyone would like to meet with us in person or by phone, our contact details are listed below. Thank you for your help and if you are not the right group, we ask that you please point us in the right direction in a timely manner. Sincerely, Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter (we now have more than 300 active participants in our discussions and our online posts have been viewed more than 5,000 times in the past two months) Co-founders, Cheryl and Paul Miller,