Our Towns

Proposed cellphone tower at Eagle school draws ire; company revamping proposal

After public opposition to a 100-foot cellphone tower on the grounds of an Eagle elementary school, FlatCo Telecommunications Services has asked for an eight-week continuance before the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission reviews the proposal.

That means the planning commission is likely to take up the issue in October, but it could be sooner if the applicant wishes, Planning and Zoning Administrator Bill Vaughn said.

The company is proposing to build the tower at Eagle Hills Elementary School, which is at 650 Ranch Dr., near Eagle Road and Floating Feather Road. The proposed location is between the school building and tennis courts, said Meridian School District spokesman Eric Exline.

Some school districts, including Boise, ban cellphone towers on school grounds.

But Meridian has cellphone equipment at numerous school campuses. It’s usually located on existing towers, typically lights for fields, Exline said. The schools that have the equipment include: Eagle High, Eagle Middle School, Meridian Middle School, Meridian High School, Sawtooth Middle School and Mountain View High School.

The district receives up to $2,500 a month for each of those sites, or as much as $180,000 a year, Exline said. If permitted to build a tower at Eagle Hills, FlatCo would also pay a one-time fee of $30,000.

Exline said opponents have cited a variety of concerns, including health impacts from cell signals and the visual impact of a 100-foot tower.

“We’ve spoken to engineers and read the literature,” he said. “The notion that it causes cancer, we can’t find evidence of that.”

Exline said the district became aware of opposition to the tower when fliers began circulating in the neighborhood near the school. Similar opposition occurred several years ago, when a tower was proposed at Summerwind Elementary School. It was never built.
“In the end, what stopped it was the visual impact,” Exline said.

FlatCo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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