City Council rejects controversial cell tower

The Ashland city council denied approval of a proposal to install 12 new cell towers atop the Ashland Street Cinema, Tuesday. The controversial plan was initially passed by the Ashland Planning Commission in July, but was taken under further review after many residents expressed concern and outrage.

Tuesday’s meeting was a continuation of an Oct. 18 meeting where residents expressed concern over the legal issues the construction of the towers could pose.

Residents were not allowed to speak or make new claims at Tuesday’s meeting. Ashland residents were applauded by council members for following the rules set forth by the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, which prohibits the inclusion of health matters as criteria for approval.

The 4-1 vote overturned the July ruling by the Planning Commission. City councilors Eric Navickas, Greg Lemhouse, David Chapman and Carol Voisin voted to over turn the ruling because they believed AT&T’s application did not meet the feasibility requirements. City councilor Russ Silbiger voted against the overturn and councilor Kate Jackson was not in attendance.

AT&T’s proposal would have hidden the towers covered by a façade in accordance with city aesthetic ordinances. Councilors voted to over turn the ruling stating, “Ashland law encourages the siting of antennas together.” Towers are currently located at the Holiday Inn Express, but AT&T’s application stated that the cinema was the only feasible location.

Even though the application’s approval was overturned, the company can submit a new application with more information regarding gaps in service and location.

Karolina Maciulyte, a junior at SOU, attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“I hope to be a politician one day,” Maciulyte said. “I wanted to see how the meeting would proceed with all of the controversy surrounding the issue.”

Maciulyte was surprised more students did not attend the meeting.
“This was obviously an important issue, a lot of people in the community were up in arms,” she said. “It would have been cool to see students take a stance on an issue that affects so many of us.”

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