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BC moves forward with cell tower plan

Schweigard said that one service provider has lined up to use the proposed tower, with room for three more. The tower would be 110 feet tall, and be located about 400 feet from the nearest home and 1,400 feet from the high school.

A number of residents and parents rose to protest the tower, taking aim at Cornacchia's assessment of the health risks, among other things.

"Do we as a town want to make the decision to be the guinea pigs?" asked Janet Sorrell, who like other speakers likened the government's knowledge of RF radiation to the dangers of lead paint or mercury, which turned out to be serious health risks.

"I didn't feel reassured by that information," she continued.

Cornacchia countered by saying that the level of RF energy coming from a cell tower pales next to what one is exposed to by talking on a cell phone, standing in front of a microwave or even walking by a motion sensor, and that technologies emitting high levels of such radiation have been in use for decades.

"We as a community have been exposed to an ambient RF environment for the last 70 years," he said. "This is not a new environment we're exposed to."

Others noted that the potential revenue from the tower is just a sliver of the district's $88 million budget. Schweigard said the district stands to realize $24,000 annually with one carrier, and that figure increase every year by 3 percent. The company would also pay property taxes to the town, with an estimated assessment of $250,000 on the facility.

While the vote was split, board members were in agreement that $24,000 is not an insignificant amount of money, especially considering the dire fiscal straits that lie ahead. It was noted the tower could pay for six modified sports coaches or make up the cost of holding night games with change to spare.

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