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Letter: Stop a cell tower in a lake district

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To the Editor:

The recent approval of a cell phone tower in the lake district affecting residents of Middle Pine, Lower Pine and Swede lakes, demonstrates how little thought the Town of Alden and Polk County officials gave to the construction of a 190-foot cell phone tower.

Arguing that a tower would expand Central States Tower Holding's network and expand cell phone coverage in the Town of Alden, officials of Central States displayed total disregard for the residents and the lake district's renowned natural beauty.

There's a lot more that benefits a community than instant access with a cell phone. According to the town minutes dated Feb. 12, 2009, a motion stated "... that there is no objection to the proposal of a cell phone tower to be placed in the vicinity of 190th Street and Church Road."

Really?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against cell phones and the towers needed to run them, but their location needs study and community involvement. Placing a cell phone tower in the middle of one of the most beautiful lake districts in all of western Wisconsin shows little foresight.

Even the town's mission statement, "Well-planned and managed development will let the community grow while retaining a country feel, not compromising the things that make it unique" contradicts the construction of a cell phone tower in the town's lake district.

Few were aware of the cell phone tower issue on the town board's agenda. As far as public notice, it appears little public notice was provided. Maybe the town complied with notice requirements, but if so, it was bare bones.

With such an important issue being considered, it would have been judicious of the town to expand notice to residents living in a wider radius of the proposed tower. Most residents in the town read the Osceola Sun or New Richmond News where no notice was given.

Residents in the area who were caught unaware of the town's decision voiced their concerns to the county but felt ignored once the decision was made by the town. It's a crying shame that the town and county did not make more of an effort to advertise this issue.

Property owners bordering the property, where the tower is designated for construction, were given only 13 days notice prior to the county's meeting. That is a pathetic example of a notice, especially if you happened to plan your vacation during that week or were on business or other travel. That actually happened to one resident who voiced objection to the tower and pleaded to deaf ears to postpone the issue to a later date.

Worse, other residents in the lake district who would also be impacted by a 190-foot cell phone tower received no written notice by either the town or county. The first time most of them heard about the tower approval was from an article in the Osceola Sun. This was a shock! I know ignorance of the law is no excuse. I read the local papers and keep up with current events, but the failure of the town and county to take critical measures to notify residents is totally irresponsible.

What Central States Tower Holdings did so masterfully was fool our elected officials into thinking there were no other options for a tower except to construct it in the heart of the lake district. The notion that unless the tower is in a certain spot and built now or the town will come to a screeching halt, is ridiculous! Whatever happened to community involvement and planning?

Remember, Central States Tower Holdings and other companies like AT&T, are major corporations. Their goal is to make money so finding the most convenient, cheapest, easiest spot to build, with the least resistance, is their goal. These companies couldn't care less that they are trashing the tree line/skyline and disturbing the area surroundings of three or more of our treasured lakes.

These lakes are home to loons, bald eagles, bears, migrating birds and much other wildlife. Ironically in the survey of town residents, respondents identified the Pine Lake Chain as "...a place that makes our community special and unique...."

They also mentioned "...the many clean lakes, streams and ponds where you can still walk and enjoy the peace and beauty...."

People come here to enjoy the area's natural, pristine beauty and resources. Visitors come from New Richmond, Star Prairie and beyond to swim, fish, picnic and enjoy the wildlife. If that tower is allowed to proceed, they will stare at a 190-foot cell phone tower looming above the lakes. And yes, for those of us fortunate enough to enjoy a seasonal cabin or year round residence on the lakes, we can stare at it too.

Oh yes, life will go on if we don't stop the construction of this tower, but it will be one more irresponsible decision that we will be forced to contend with for a very long time. It is not forward thinking, as the impact of a huge tower like this will not have long term benefits for us now or future generations.

For those who argue this is "progress," I say this is stupidity! In this case progress is not success. The construction of a tower, however, would be a failure as it would destroy a beautiful area and it would be permanent. A smarter plan would have been to involve the public in hearings to debate the issue and consider alternate locations with less impact on the lakes. We must consider the sacrifices a community makes and the consequences of such a large project.

With the approval of the tower already in place, and with only days left for an appeal, we must act now to move the location. People who this love this area and want to protect it for future generations need to step up to the plate and defeat the construction of this tower in the heart of this awesome lake district.

This tower could have as many as 12 antennas, three platforms of 185 feet, 175 feet and 165 feet and be an eyesore for all who live around and or visit to enjoy Middle Pine, Lower Pine, Swede, Paulson and possibly Cedar lakes.

Hank Fogelberg

Star Prairie

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