Neighborhood fights possible new cell tower on church property - WSMV News 4

Neighborhood fights possible new cell tower on church property

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A Clarksville neighborhood said they're ready to fight a possible new addition they believe will lower property values and impact their health.

Staff at the St. Bethlehem United Methodist Church said Verizon has contacted them about possibly putting a cell tower on their property.

"A lot of times when there's towers, if it's a cell tower, buyers don't want to buy in that particular radius," said resident Barbara Kastner, speaking to her neighbors. "Most of the church members there don't live in this area. We live in the community."

Surrounding yards are now dotted with signs reading, "No Cell Towers" and "Keep Them Out of Our St. Bethlehem Neighborhood."

"It is an eyesore," said resident Frances McKillip. "It will devalue the value of the properties in the neighborhood, especially in the first few blocks."

While the American Cancer Society says there is little evidence to support the idea cell towers cause cancer, neighbors said they've seen other studies to make them wary of a tower around local families.

"My mother's a cancer survivor," said McKillip. "Even if there's a slightest chance this tower could cause a health risk to anyone in this community, that would devastate me."

Chairman of the Church's council Bill Booth tells Channel 4, they don't want their consideration of Verizon's offer to diminish their charitable work. In a statement, Booth said, "We are in the process of gathering the best information available concerning this issue so that our leadership can make an informed decision."

"I think it was sneaky considering this was going on for more than a year, and we find out about it in the past week," said Kastner. "You don't expect something like that from a church."

"We're pleading at this point," said McKillip. "We're pleading to the church to be good neighbors. I don't think anybody who has voted for this tower would vote to put a cell tower in their backyard."

The project will see a public meeting in May. David Ripple of the Regional Planning Commission said if the tower doesn't end up on church property, there are private properties that could take it.

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