Neighbors oppose cellphone tower at Vienna church

WASHINGTON — Plans to build a cellphone tower close to a school are rubbing some people the wrong way, and it will be the topic of a meeting Wednesday night.

Andrew Chapel United Methodist Church, in Vienna, Va., is trying to get permission to put up what will look like a bell tower, but will serve as a cellphone tower.

Those who want to build it say the tower would improve cellphone service near Va. 7 west of Tysons Corner.

The church is very close to Colvin Run Elementary School, and although the Federal Communications Commission says cellphone towers are safe because of the height and direction of the antennas, Vienna resident Emily Rakowski is still worried.

“A major concern that we do have is regarding the health issues that come with low frequency RF radiation that is emitted from cellphone towers,” she says.

Rakowski says the federal government’s studies on the topic are outdated.

“The actual studies that were done that were the basis of the FCC standards that were set in 1996 … were actually conducted in the mid-1980s, (and) conducted on animals in very short bursts of radiation exposure,” she says.

Rakowski adds that the tower also would look out of place: “This tower is supposed to be erected at 120 feet tall, which is a huge order of magnitude taller than any other nearby building.”

Another nearby resident and opponent, Ingrid Mohn, agrees.

“This 120-foot tower is going to be quite an eyesore and visible to most of us.”

Mohn, a cancer survivor, is also worried about the possible harmful health effects of living near a cell tower.

“It’s very upsetting,” she says.

More than 400 people have signed a petition on Change.org to stop the project, which is awaiting county approval.

A community meeting to discuss the proposal is set for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the church.

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