By Sam Robinson
Westfield and Carmel residents are concerned by plans to construct a 120-foot cellphone tower on school property in a residential area.
AT&T wants to build the tower southeast of 146th Street and Oak Ridge Road. The property owned by Our Lady of Mount Carmel is next to the school’s athletic field and a natural gas pumping station. It’s just north of the border between Carmel and Westfield.
The Westfield Board of Zoning Appeals granted AT&T a variance on May 12, meaning they can build with a reduced setback distance from the road and field.
“All the residents around here are worried about the radio frequencies it uses,” said Mindy McDonald of Carmel. “And if the structure were to collapse, it would collapse on the sports field.”
The American Cancer Society says that cellphone radiofrequency signals don’t cause cancer, but McDonald still doesn’t want the tower near children.
“Our backyard is the field,” McDonald said. “I’m scared for my kids and I think it will look ugly.”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel declined to comment.
McDonald and around 20 local residents opposed the variance. Doug Holtz, the Home Owners Association president of Village Farms in Westfield, said he’s “disappointed” by the decision.
The tower will be a “stealth pole” that resembles a flag pole, with a fence and trees around it. AT&T argued that it will drastically improve cell coverage.
“There are other locations than a residential neighborhood for a 120 foot pole,” Holtz said.
“This was just a variance in land,” said Erin Murphy, the communications director for Westfield. “It will go through the APC and they will decide if the plans meets the applicable standards set in place.”
The Advisory Plan Commission is continuing discussion of the matter.