HARTFORD Cell-phone tower plan has residents up in arms

Residents worry that cellular towers could cause cancer or other health problems.
HARTFORD -- More than 100 residents have signed letters objecting to a Solon company's plan to build cellular-telephone towers in the township.
The company, TH Inc. Wireless, wants to put up one tower at 7522 Thompson-Sharpsville Road, and a second just north of Hartford Center on the west side of state Route 7.
"There is no short- or long-term benefit from them," said Rhonda Ayersman, who lives near the proposed site on Thompson-Sharpsville Road and uses her own cell phone "only when it is necessary."
Residents' concerns: She, and her neighbor Flo Clawson, say they are rallying residents because they are concerned about possible health risks from living near the towers. One tower will be within three-quarters of a mile of an elementary school, they say.
Leukemia, brain tumors and other cancers might be caused by radiation from the towers, Ayersman said.
"Have you ever heard there is proof of people not having long-term illness from them?" she said.
Out of 111 township residents the women have approached so far, only three have refused to sign a letter, Ayersman said.
The presence of cellular towers might also make area properties harder to sell, because possible buyers would also be concerned about health risks, the women said.
Trustee's stance: Township Trustee Rebecca Whitman said she opposes the towers because they conflict with the residential and agricultural character of the township. She rarely uses her own cell phone, she said.
Townships can fight the placement of cell-phone towers in residential areas by using zoning laws, but they have to adhere to a strict timetable to do so successfully, said Jim Saker, an attorney in the civil division of the Trumbull County Prosecutor's Office.
Ohio law requires that a company wishing to build a cell-phone tower notify neighbors by mail, then gives them 15 days to receive the letter and object to township trustees.
After objections are heard, the trustees have five days to notify the company that the tower will be subject to zoning.
"The way the law is written, it is very favorable to the companies," he said.

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