Erecting a Cell Tower in Brookfield Raises Concerns

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by Elizabeth Fay

BROOFIELD -- A plan is in place to improve cell phone service in Brookfield but some residents raise concerns.

The City of Brookfield is considering allowing Verizon Wireless to build an expandable cell tower near Elmbrook Memorial Hospital on property that backs up to homes on Alta Vista Circle. Neighbors who live there are concerned about their property values and safety.

"It's going to be so close to homes and where children play. I just couldn't imagine the city would put something like that on such a small piece of land," says Sarah Eimerman.  

"It's going to be inches away from my property," adds Ed Virnig.

"If something were to fall, we have real concerns something would hit any one of the three of our houses," says Jill Pasqua.

Verizon Wireless proposed building the cell tower to improve cell phone service to its customers. Mayor Steven Ponto says upgrading service is the driving force behind the project.
"It's critically important to have good cell phone service, because increasingly, people are relying just on cell phones," says the Mayor.

The City of Brookfield also has a financial incentive to put the structure at the proposed site at 19295 West North Avenue next to the water tower. It is city-owned property, so installing it there would bring in $26,938, according to the Mayor and Planning Administrator, Michael These. That amount increases 5% every year. Furthermore, the cell tower could accommodate three more carriers besides Verizon Wireless and each would have to pay a $26,938 fee. That's why it is financially advantageous for the city to approve cell towers on city-owned land.

"Our priority is to site them on publicly-owned land." He says that way, the city generates revenue to benefit the citizens of Brookfield.

The mayor tells CBS 58 he believes the site behind Alta Vista Circle is the only option to keep the profit and accommodate Verizon Wireless's needs. "There isn't a publicly owned piece of land to my knowledge that is in this area that is needed to accommodate Verizon."

However, neighbors we spoke with, feel there must be a better option.  "I don't think this is in the best interest of Brookfield. Who is going to want to move to a city where they put cell towers up in your neighborhood?" says Pasqua.

If the project is approved, it will be completed this summer.  If you would like to weigh in, you can attend a public hearing at city hall on May 13th.

The City of Brookfield posted information about the proposal and related studies on its website:
http://www.ci.brookfield.wi.us/index.aspx?NID=835

 

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