March 31, 2011

Neighbors, Parents' Coalition Fighting Proposed Cell Phone Pole on Sligo Middle School Property

T-Mobile special exception hearing was on Feb. 11th, will be discussed at PTA meeting on Mar. 8th.

Residents near Sligo Middle School are hoping the special examiner will rule against MCPS’ and T-Mobile special exception request to put a 130-foot cell phone monopole on the property of the school.

The special exception hearing, held on Feb. 11th, garnered the attention of a number of residents in the areas north of the school. In addition to concerns that they were not properly notified, residents think the pole will lower property values, become a safety hazard to the nearby school and impact the open space near Sligo Creek Park.

According to Mary Pat Wilson, real estate management specialist for MCPS who attended the hearing, T- Mobile approached MCPS almost two years ago to put a single monopole cell reception tower on the site. In hearing testimony, T-Mobile’s lawyer noted that the middle school site was not their first choice, but building sites in more commercial areas were either unsuitable or not willing to enter into a lease.

The single pole would be placed behind the school’s tennis courts, in the center of a 30 by 80 foot gravel compound surrounded by a fence and trees.

Nearby homeowner and Parents’ Coalition member Janis Sartucci filed a motion to dismiss the special exception. Sartucci’s main objections: the staff member who authorized the special exception was not a member of the board of the education, the body ultimately authorized to sign real estate and telecommunications deals. Sartucci also noted that the “lessee” box was checked in the special exception, but no lease exists currently between MCPS and T-Mobile. SOURCE: Wheaton Patch

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