Supervisors deny appeal on cell tower

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Calaveras County supervisors yesterday denied the appeal of a Mokelumne Hill man who doesn't want a cellular phone tower near his house.

Mike Strobel was appealing the county Planning Commission's November decision to allow Cingular Wireless, a nationwide cellular phone company, to build a 68-foot tower on the 8000 block of Miwok Trail.

Health risk, not the tower's appearance, was his primary concern.

Strobel gave county supervisors handouts that listed thousands of Web sites with information about the possible risks of microwave radiation from cell towers.

However just as planning commissioners did supervisors said the Federal Communications Act prohibits them from considering health risks when deciding the location of cell towers.

That said, they denied Strobel's appeal.

"I think they were backing up their own Planning Commission, and I think the Planning Commission was negligent in its overall approach," Strobel said.

He said supervisors should have ordered Cingular Wireless to build the tower farther from his property.

"I don't like the idea of being constantly bombarded with microwave radiation while in my house," Strobel said.

Supervisor Paul Stein said he understands Strobel's concerns, but said the Federal Communications Act bars him from granting the appeal.

"I don't think this board has any discretion to do that," Stein said.

Strobel raised questions about the safety of cell phone towers at the November Planning Commission meeting.

Cingular Wireless officials later said their towers emit less radiation than some cordless telephones.

They've also said that without the Miwok Trail tower, Cingular customers might have a gap in coverage when traveling through Calaveras County. The region's rugged terrain makes finding alternate locations difficult, they said.

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