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BC rules out elementary cell towers

As for the potential health, visual and property value impacts, Schweigard said that Independent can commission a range of studies at the request of the district, the cost of which would be assumed by the company. He added that the FCC controls tower radiation levels.

"The FCC has established what the emissions from the facility are and established what the safe levels are," he said.

Other sources have a varying opinion of the effect signals from cell towers can have on health, and how close one must be to be affected.

The district has not signed a letter of intent with Independent, which would move the process forward.

The school board said a public hearing on the issue would be scheduled for the near future, possibly at or before the next Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

Especially as upcoming fiscal difficulties come into focus, finding alternative revenue streams is a priority for the district in order to lessen the burden on taxpayers.

On that note, district officials said that there have been positive comments on the cell tower proposal, as well. Board President James Dering noted that while $20,000 might not seem like a lot in an $88 million budget, with budget constraints the district has been forced to examine smaller items like eliminating night football games at a $10,000 to $15,000 savings.

Board member Laura Biernman said that while commercialization of schools is a valid topic of concern, proposals should be examined on a case-by-case basis.

"I don't think we should come up with a blind policy that says no, we shouldn't do anything like that," she said.

Opponents of the plan said they were pleased at the school board's decision. It was not clear whether the No School Towers Coalition would continue to protest a tower at the Operations and Maintenance building; the group is largely comprised of residents living near Hamagrael.

"I'm relieved," said Marie Dropkin, who lives near Hamagrael and is a group member. She said the group was focused on the elementary school sites, but those members opposed to commercial development may continue their efforts.

"There may be other people in that neighborhood near the other site who don't know about this," she continued.

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