Parents petition to keep cell towers away from schools

The Cumberland Valley School District has agreed to lease out a portion of its campus to Verizon.

Under the agreement, the cell phone giant would pay the district an annual $24,000 to build a tower on their land.

Some parents are hoping to change that.

Wednesday night, the Silver Spring Township Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with an amendment to the text in their current zoning regulation. This would prohibit cell phone towers from being built within 1,000 feet of schools or day care centers.

“Every day when you drop your kids off at school, do you want to have to look up at a tower and say, 'I hope I made the right choice?' ” said Jonathan Burns.

Burns' two children attend Eagle View Middle School, just yards from where Verizon plans to build.

“After the school board meeting I went home and started to do some cursory research and found out that there is a lot out there that is concerning,” Burns said of possible health risks associated with close-range electromagnetic frequencies.

The scientific community is mixed on the idea that this specific type of radiation can be cancer-causing.

Most conclude that the levels are too low, but almost all lack long term data.

“There is no place in scientific study for a 'Chicken Little; Sky is Falling' mentality,” said Silver Spring resident and local physician Todd Harvey.

“My personal skepticism of the science behind electromagnetic risks has been high but with the results of studies being inconclusive, why should we take the risk with our children when other locations for the towers are available?” Harvey said.

“I certainly think that adds into the board's decision,” added Silver Spring Township Manager Theresa Eberly.

With the township's approval, the amendment will now be passed onto the township and the county planning commissions for review.

Burns says the tower is not a risk, it's a gamble.

“I think within that 1000 foot zone we can protect our children,” he said. “At least give them a fighting chance.”

The township explained that they must be diligent in the wording of this amendment. For example, the definition of “daycare.” Would a corporate child care service be included? What about a daycare inside of a major chain store?

A public hearing will be held in Silver Spring Township on Jan. 22.


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