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Publication Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Neighbor protests cell phone antenna on West Menlo church Neighbor protests cell phone antenna on West Menlo church (February 13, 2002)

By Andrea Gemmet

Almanac Staff Writer

A West Menlo Park man is protesting plans to build a cellular phone antenna atop Bethany Lutheran Church, saying that its electromagnetic radiation could harm the health of people in the residential neighborhood.

The San Mateo County Planning Commission is scheduled to hear the appeal from Brett Missenberg at its meeting on Wednesday, February 13.

According to plans submitted by Nextel Communications, a three-sided antenna array inside a fiberglass structure would be constructed atop the church's roof peak, about 45 feet from the ground, and a fenced equipment shelter would be located in the parking lot behind the church. The church is located at 1095 Cloud Ave., at the corner of Cloud and Avy avenues.

County planning staff are recommending that planning commissioners deny the appeal and allow the antenna, on the grounds that Mr. Missenberg's concerns are unfounded.

After conducting a search for information over the Internet, the staff cited a Medical College of Wisconsin study saying that there are no health hazards from cell phone antenna arrays as long as people are kept from direct access to the antennas.

Project planner Michael Schaller also dismissed Mr. Missenberg's assertion that health fears would cause local property values to suffer, saying in the report to the Planning Commission that "larger macro-economic forces are the primary influence in home value fluctuations, the micro-scale neighborhood changes playing a lesser role."

Approval of the project is contingent on several conditions, including changes to the design of the structure housing the antenna to decrease the "tacked-on nature of the enclosure" and the "aesthetically unappealing massing on top of the church," according to Mr. Schaller's report.


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