Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Langford to zone against cell towers

Langford to zone against cell towers

Langford is changing its zoning to make it illegal for transmission towers to be erected in residential neighbourhoods.

In the face of residents' complaints about a 29-metre cell tower proposed for 709 Latoria Road, the municipality is changing its zoning bylaw allowing towers to be constructed only in commercial areas.

It has also has formed a consultation committee of staff and residents to quickly draft a municipal policy on tower siting.

Mayor Stew Young hopes the move will stop the Latoria Road tower.

Nancy Chamberlayne, a multiple sclerosis sufferer who would be living in the shadow of the proposed Latoria Road tower, urged council this week to take any steps it could to stop the construction. She's worried about health effects.

"I've worked really, really hard to keep the MS stable, so attacks are a minimum, but now I'm scared," Chamberlayne said.

"Over 22 years, I've lost the use of both these legs, both these arms, my hearing; I've had double vision three times. I've lost the use of my balance, I've lost use of my bladder, and I've had numbness and tingling. I've done a lot of healing. I don't want to backward. I want to go forward."

She urged council to be proactive.

"We don't need to be looking at the same thing as asbestos and thalidomide and lead and cigarettes and hear in 10 or 30 years from now, 'Sorry, we made a mistake, cell towers are hazardous to our health.' "

The zoning change has been prompted by Young's frustration with what he considers to be a lack of public consultation over tower siting, coupled with Industry Canada's practice of issuing permits for new towers in residential neighbourhoods in defiance of Langford's official policy.

He said requiring that towers be built only in commercial areas would at least force a rezoning process complete with public hearings.

David Carroll, who lives on Kelly Dawn Place right across the street from where the tower would be located, said Industry Canada's approach isn't consultation but "autocration."

He said more than 340 people in the area have signed a petition against the proposed tower.

"This location for the tower is inappropriate. It's on a residential lot in a residential area," he said.

Carroll said the municipality needs to develop an official consultation policy on the siting of towers. Without it, Industry Canada follows its own guidelines for public consultation.

Young said the new zoning requirement will form part of Langford's tower consultation policy.

"What we believe is in existing neighbourhoods to put up a tower for commercial use changes the zoning of a person's property from residential to commercial use."