An attorney representing AT&T’s plans to plop a 120-foot cell tower in North College Park drew signals of skepticism among several residents whose homes are near the site.
“Our goal is to get feedback from you,” said the attorney, Gregory Rapisarda, who presented the proposal at the North College Park Citizens Association meeting last night.
While three other tower sites had been tested by AT&T in the area, placing the tower along the east edge of Odessa Road and just north of the Capital Beltway would provide the most coverage, according to Rapisarda.
“We’ve got to fill this gap,” he said, pointing to a pictorial chart showing a white swath of dead-zone in AT&T’s wireless coverage.
“Why don’t you look in your own backyard?” said a half-serious Harley Elliott, whose home sits along the 5200 block of Palco Place.
Others agreed, questioning the aesthetic value in a 120-foot tower, its impact on home values and peoples’ health.
While Rapisarda conceded that the tower may create an eyesore, he said it posed no risk to home values nor people’s health, according to studies and the FCC.
Comprised of a 50-by-50-foot base, Rapisarda also said the tower would be “highly landscaped” and sit “over 200 feet” from the nearest resident’s home.
Yet Rapisarda’s assurances did little to quell skepticism, as some questioned how much the city would net from a deal.
According to Councilman Patrick Wojahn (Dist. 1), AT&T’s “initial offer” to the city was $1,200 per month, a point that drew guffaws from some, including Mr. Elliott.
“They (city leaders) sold us out for $1,200?”
As Wojahn noted more than once, the city is far from striking a deal with AT&T. Mayor Andrew Fellows agreed, thanking everyone for their input on AT&T’s proposal.
According to Rapisarda, AT&T is about “six to eight months” away from engaging in the public-hearings process.
Still, residents wondered: “How does this benefit our neighborhood?”
A better wireless signal, said Rapisarda.
“Our reception here is just fine,” said one resident, while another doubled down: “I’ve got Verizon.”