Vienna Residents Debate Cellphone Tower on Church Property

Parents concerned about health risks

By Kristin Wright
|  Saturday, Mar 22, 2014  |  Updated 10:04 AM EDT
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Better cell service or a danger to the community? A proposed cell tower is sparking controversy in a quiet neighborhood in northern Virginia. News4's Kristin Wright has more on the fight that's pitting neighbor against neighbor.

Kristin Wright

Better cell service or a danger to the community? A proposed cell tower is sparking controversy in a quiet neighborhood in northern Virginia. News4's Kristin Wright has more on the fight that's pitting neighbor against neighbor.

A proposed cellphone tower has a Vienna, Va., neighborhood arguing over whether better cellphone service is possible danger to the community.

Andrew Chapel United Methodist Church wants to build a 120-foot cell tower in a bell tower design. Some parents of students at Culvert Run Elementary School across the street don't want it.

"We'll fight against it,” Lisa Garcia said. “We can win. We can't stay quiet."

She's especially vocal on issues that have raised questions about health impacts because her 7-year-old son, Julian, has autism.

Parents with children at Andrew Chapel's preschool are also concerned.

"Neurological type of diseases,” Emily Rakowski said. “Cardiovascular. Cancers, attention deficit disorders, autism."

But the EPA says studies are "not conclusive," and the American Cancer Society finds "there's little evidence" cell towers cause cancer.

Bob Philipp doesn't have health concerns. He hopes a new tower could improve cell service. He gets two bars at home on a good day.

"Contractors, when they come to this area, you'll see them come out on to the street to make their call," he said.

"You need a cellphone tower to use your cellphone, right?” Vienna resident George Lucas said. “It's just something you have to put up, like it or not."

Some opponents don’t like the way the tower would look next to their upscale homes or an historic cemetery.

Andrew chapel would be paid to house the tower.

Fairfax County officials must green light the tower, but first they'll listen to what the public has to say at a hearing May 22.

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