A conceptualized image of the tower that was proposed at Fourth and Willow.
The city’s case for denying a permit for a cell phone tower at the corner of Fourth and Willow lies with the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. City Attorney Doug Stack recently presented the case before the appeals court, Stack told the city council on Tuesday.
“It went well,” he said of his presentation. Stack expects the court to rule within 2-8 months.
The case goes back two years to May 15, 2012, when the council voted 6-2 to deny a permit for the tower, after taking public comments for more than an hour.
Viaero has not has much luck getting a permit for a tower near the middle of town. Another tower was turned down April 2 behind the House Bar at 1600 East Fifth, after property owners in that neighborhood protested.
Viaero is appealing that decision too.
In 2012, residents in the area of Fourth and Willow said the tower would not be in harmony with the character of the mostly residential area. They said it would be unsightly and, possibly, unsafe because of radio waves.
The tower would have taken radio frequency signals and conducted them to the Century Link building two blocks away through a fiber optic cable,Viaero Wireless representative Bob Hirsekorn said. That would improve Viaero's cell phone signals in the middle of North Platte, and also help provide 4th generation coverage and large amounts of data to cell phone users throughout central Nebraska, including such places as Arthur and Valentine.
Most of the objectors told the council that the tower would be an eyesore, not just for residents, but also for the 13,770 cars a day that drive through the intersection.
At the start of the public hearing, Stack told the assembly that the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 says city councils and planning commissions cannot regulate cell phone towers because of concerns about the emissions of radio frequencies, which some European studies indicate cause cancer.
Nevertheless, neighbor Bill Pigati said the health and safety of his 11-year-old daughter, and himself, was his ultimate concern.
Children play in the neighborhood. There's a school not that far away. Consumers shouldn’t have the burden of proof of the danger of a new development. Developers should prove that it’s safe, he said.
At the end of the meeting, Councilman Jim Carman said the residential area along Fourth St. is historical and beautiful and placed his sympathies with the folks who live nearby and would be the most affected.
“They would have to put up with this for a long, long time. I will vote no,” he said.
At Councilman Dan McGuire's urging, Councilman Jerry Stoll moved to deny the plan because it was not in harmony with the character of the area and not the best use of the property. McGuire seconded and the council agreed, 6-2.