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Plans of AT&T Tower Draw Signals of Skepticism

North College Park residents question plans of 120-foot cell tower just north of Capital Beltway and east end of Odessa Road.

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.” 

Robert Catlin May 07, 2011 at 12:25 AM
Going from a 1% increase to a 4% increase is an increasee of 3%, not 400%. Otherwise an increase from 0% to 1% would mean that taxes increase by an infinite amount.
Jon Gulbuny May 08, 2011 at 03:35 AM
What was the reasoning for a 300% increase in taxes from 2007 to 2008?
Jon Gulbuny May 09, 2011 at 12:24 AM
Bob - can you answer the question? You were very quick to respond the difference between the "increase" in percentage. While we are at it mr. economist - google "do economist like myself favor rent control" You will get 89% of ALL economist say rent control screws the city. It really makes me wonder why you as an economist would be for it if you weren't being paid by someone. Right?
Robert Catlin May 09, 2011 at 11:23 AM
The Homestead went from 1% to 4% for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons was that new assessments in January 2004 for 80% of College Park (the rest of the City is on a cycle that begins the following year) showed valuations that averaged 30% higher than the 2001 valuations. However, it was to late to change the Homestead for that year (State policy requires changes need to occur almost a year in advance) so residents received a 10% increasse in 2005. Reduction to 1% meant that over the three-year period when assessments could have increasd by 30% they increased by 12%, or an average of 4% a year. In 2007 new assessments reflected a 70% increase, so instead of taxes increasing by the maximum allowable of 30% (over 2007-2009) they increased by 9% (1%-2007, 4%-2008, and 4%-2009).
Jon Gulbuny May 10, 2011 at 11:16 PM
Just because assessments grew at an enormous rate doesn't mean the city should spend that money. Were there extra services that demanded this extra tax? It would seem like the same number of people would be using the same services so why the extra tax? We need to control gov spending. I'm not saying no taxes but just because you can collect millions of dollars and waste it on your own pet projects doesn't mean its the right thing to do. But I'm sure you will just send a letter to all of the residents and tell them why they should vote not to control gov tax increases. Wait, you already did.

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