Board Votes Down Cell Tower at Medlock Elementary School
Medlock residents spoke out against the proposed cell tower at Monday night's DeKalb County Board of Education meeting. But the board gave approval to towers at Lakeside High and Briarlake Elementary schools.
Medlock residents flooded the DeKalb County Board of Education meeting Monday evening to object to a proposal to erect a T-Mobile cell tower at the site of Medlock Elementary School. The plan before the school board also called for the construction of cell towers at several other DeKalb County schools, including Lakeside High School and Briarlake Elementary School.
Ultimately the Medlock residents’ impassioned objections were heard and the school board passed an amended version of the proposal that exempted Medlock Elementary from tower construction. Meadowview and Brockett elementary schools also received exemptions.
In her testimony before the board, Pat Camp, vice president of the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association, argued that Medlock’s situation was unique because the school at the proposed tower location recently closed its doors.
“Of 12 proposed locations for cell towers, there is only one where the community is facing a double-whammy,” she said.
Medlock residents stressed the potential impact of the proposed tower on property values, the environment and public health in their pleas to the board. Judy McDowell, who said she lives five houses away from Medlock Elementary, urged board members to seriously consider the potential health implications of the proposal.
“Conclusive data is not in yet on cell towers,” she said. “So to assume that no news is good news” is ill-advised.
When the proposal came before the school board for a vote, District 2 board member Don McChesney, whose district includes Medlock, offered an amendment to strike Medlock, Meadowview and Brockett from the proposed tower locations.
“We have heard from these two communities,” he said. “These folks have made it clear this is how they feel... and I am supporting their opinion.”
McChesney’s amendment passed, with seven members voting for it and only District 7 board member Donna Edler voting against it.
Edler also proposed an additional amendment to halt tower construction at all locations. Her motion failed by a vote of 6 to 2. Edler and District 1 board member Nancy Jester were the lone affirmative votes.
Following Edler’s failed amendment, the original motion was brought to a vote with McChesney’s amendment attached to it. The motion passed by a vote of 6 to 2 with only Edler and Jester voting against it.
Medlock residents streamed out of the meeting with victorious smiles on their faces.
“I think based on what McChesney said, he was listening to us and he supported our wishes,” said neighborhood resident Joanne Massey.
As for the locations where cell tower construction was approved, Massey stressed that T-Mobile must still successfully navigate the county’s zoning process before construction can begin.
“There’s still many more leaps and hurdles they have to cross,” she said.