By Lauren DiSpirito
BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – A mother in Broomfield is leading the charge to stop a cellphone tower from being built at a church near the intersection of Sheridan and East Midway boulevards.
Stacy Warden, who lives in the neighboring Willow Park subdivision, worries the tower’s frequencies will negatively interact with her 7-year-old son Noah’s lifesaving medical equipment. Noah has cerebral palsy with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and a sensory processing disorder that makes him sensitive to stimulants such as electromagnetic frequencies. Noah is unable to walk, talk, crawl or eat on his own, but has cognitive function, and is aware of his surroundings, according to Warden.
“I’m really scared about the impact that it’s going to have on Noah,” Warden said.
In addition to her fears over the tower’s frequency and its effects, Warden says noise that the tower could produce can cause a harmonic distortion that would make Noah sick.
“His trigger causes a gag reflex, and he’ll gag until he actually vomits, and he won’t stop vomiting,” Warden said.
Warden says her house is within 500 feet of the proposed site. The plan, which Broomfield City Council members voted on Dec. 15 to approve, allows Verizon to construct a 52-foot tower to resemble an old spire on a corner of Calvary Church’s property. The church already agreed to an automatically renewing five-year lease deal with Verizon that gives the church $2,000 a month in exchange for the use of its property, Senior Pastor Steve Kalb said.
Construction on the tower has not yet begun. Warden is asking city council members to reconsider their decision and weigh information they might not have had at the time of the vote. She went door-to-door, handing neighbors flyers that list 17 factors she and other opponents to the plan want the city to consider.
“We’re hopeful and confident that if we give city council information that they didn’t have at the time on the 15th, that they may feel very differently about their decision,” Warden said.
City council’s decision to approve the plan surprised Warden and some of her neighbors because earlier Broomfield’s planning and zoning commission voted down the idea 4-0, recommending the city deny the request because the applicant could not “sufficiently answer questions” regarding sound suppression, signal intensity and other concerns.
Warden says many people did not raise their concerns sooner because they did not expect the plan would be approved. To reverse its decision, a city spokesman says a council member who voted in favor of the proposal would have to make a motion to reconsider the vote. So far, no council member has done so.
Calvary Church leadership says Verizon approached them asking for permission to build on their property. The church has been facing financial setbacks for more than 2 1/2 years after their main building had to be demolished over soil problems and faulty construction.
“We’d been hoping and praying for a way to recover some of our losses,” Kalb said.
The cellphone tower deal gives Calvary Church the opportunity to repay its debts and eventually rebuild. Kalb is aware of opposition to the plan, and in particular, Warden’s concerns over potential impacts to Noah’s health. Kalb says he shared those concerns with Verizon, asking them to look into the claims.
“We’ve already contractually obligated ourselves with Verizon, and so that is one of the reasons that we’re still doing this,” Kalb said. “It does concern me, and when we talked to the Verizon engineer who was at the council meeting on the 15th — he assured us that this wouldn’t happen.”
In a statement, Verizon told CBS4 it “is aware of this particular situation and has been working closely with the landlord, city council and residents in the local community. We strive to be an asset to any community and we operate within the guidelines set by the FCC. We plan to move forward with adding a new site in Broomfield to meet growing customer demand and improve network performance for the community and first responders.”
Warden and some of her neighbors plan to take their concerns to a regularly scheduled city council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. So far, one council member has requested a study session on the impacts of cellphone towers, but there’s been no indication whether any of those who voted in favor of the proposal plan to change their vote.
“I really think it’s important as a community that we have a voice in this,” Warden said. “This is going to impact not just me but all of the homeowners in my area.”