Homeowners Frustrated With Proposed Cell Tower Construction

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DALLAS -– Several residents of a development in Luzerne County told Newswatch 16 that they want a proposed cell phone tower to be built on a nearby college campus instead of near their backyard.

A spokesperson for Verizon Wireless said they need to build a new cell tower in the Back Mountain area by this summer to prevent network overloads and outages from the increased demand.

Some people in the area blame the increased demand on students, faculty and staff at Misericordia University utilizing more cell phones and wireless technology.

"If they don't put this tower up, I can understand why people would gripe and moan about the inconvenience, but if it's got to happen, it's got to happen,” said Misericordia Junior Cal Clark.

A Misericordia University spokesperson said the campus is located in a residential zone in Dallas Township and that the construction of a cell phone tower would likely take a lengthy variance process.

To avoid the network from going overcapacity later this year, Verizon Wireless said it has proposed to build a cell tower a few miles away, on private property behind the Twin Stacks Center on Route 415 in Dallas Borough.

Volunteers inside Rock Solid Academy told Newswatch 16 that they’re not concerned about construction of a new cell tower near the private school.

It does concern us if the service would be slowed down, because of Misericordia has grown tremendously with thousands of students,” said Bill Norwig. “If it does slow that down, yes, it would be a concern. Anything that can be done to upgrade service would certainly be beneficial to all of us."

Marty Straigis said he recently moved into a home at Bluff Pointe with his pregnant wife and that they are worried about any health or property value impact from the construction of a 125 foot tall cell tower near their backyard.

"I believe if it's going to serve mostly the expanding university… it should be on their property. The majority of the homeowners at the meeting yesterday also agreed,”said Straigis. “My wife is five months pregnant. I’ve looked on the internet; I can’t find any long-term research indicating the safety of cell phone towers.

A spokesperson for Verizon Wireless said their operations are safe and that they will likely lease space on a new tower to other carriers, which is welcome news to Misericordia University Junior Lindsay Rader

"I have AT&T. I have the iPhone. It works sometimes. Sometimes I don't get very good service. But at home, I hardly have any service. It would be nice if there were more towers around,” said Rader.

Dallas Borough Council is expected to approve or deny the plan for Verizon Wireless for build a new cell tower after a hearing to weigh public opinion next month.

A spokesperson for Misericordia University said it offers free Wi-Fi access to students, faculty and guests on 98%.

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