By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – A protest outside Salem United Church of Christ wasn’t over Sunday service, but cellphone service. A Verizon tower going up at East Florida and South Grape had neighbors chanting, “Can you hear me now?”

(credit: CBS)

“We were here first. To wake up one morning and have to live with something like this is not okay,” said Lisa Merenius. She’s one of 250 neighbors who signed a petition against the tower.

Merenius says the neighborhood was not properly notified by the church or Verizon. They expressed their concerns at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday.

“I think that the church and Verizon should’ve put in a good neighbor policy effort and notified our neighborhood that this is going on,” said Merenius.

(credit: CBS)

The tower is being built at the corner of Salem United Church of Christ’s property. More than two dozen neighbors stood outside Sunday chanting, “Don’t cell out.”

“Neighbors are concerned about property values decreasing. We have neighbors who are concerned about the appearance. We have neighbors who are concerned about health,” explained Merenius.

Merenius says there’s a child with special needs in the neighborhood who could suffer from impact of the tower’s microwaves.

(credit: CBS)

“We can’t say for certain that there are no effects of having something of this magnitude in a 100% residential neighborhood,” said Merenius.

James Dean, a member of the church’s Buildings and Ground Ministry, says the church is on commercial property, but they’re trying to be a good neighbor.

“We did a lot of research and felt like it would be a good addition to the neighborhood. The church is very concerned about the neighbors’ concerns,” said Dean.

Dean says final decisions are voted on by the congregation of approximately 50 people. He says all were in favor of the tower. It could provide better cell service, and possibly better church service.

“We have an agreement from Verizon where they do pay money for that site. We can certainly use it. I think most churches are in that way today,” said Dean.

(credit: CBS)

Dean says he respectfully disagrees with neighbor’s health concerns. As for looks, he says the church requested Verizon make the tower aesthetically pleasing.

“We are hoping to find a way to develop good communication with the rest of the neighborhood and address some of the issues they have,” said Dean. He says the church will provide an official statement when all members of the Buildings and Ground Ministry are back in town.

Virginia Village Neighbors plan to continue their efforts to get the tower removed.

Tori Mason

Comments (2)
  1. Susan Goddard says:

    CBS, thanks for the coverage. This is actually a much more complicated story than presented since it is playing out all over the country. And when neighbors are not invited to comment BEFORE plans move forward, the church AND Verizon is not acting in good faith. I suspect the recent curtailment of a proposed tower in the Bonnie Brae neighborhood curtailed any meaningful attempts to establish a dialogue in Virginia Village.
    In addition, Verizon insists that RMFs are safe but their 10k filing of December, 2018 would suggest differently: “We are subject to a substantial amount of litigation, including, from time to time, shareholder derivative suits, patent infringement lawsuits, antitrust class actions, wage and hour class actions, personal injury claims and lawsuits relating to our advertising, sales, billing and collection practices. In addition, our wireless business also faces personal injury and consumer class action lawsuits relating to alleged health effects of wireless phones or radio frequency transmitters, and class action lawsuits that challenge marketing practices and disclosures relating to alleged adverse health effects of handheld wireless phones. We may incur significant expenses in defending these lawsuits. In addition, we may be required to pay significant awards or settlements.”
    Please check it for yourself. The link is: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/732712/000119312517050292/d296602d10k.htm#tx296602_5
    And you ought to know that there is a question of liability that Verizon will not answer. Exclusion 32 is an industry standard exclusion for liability related to health issues stemming from long-term exposure to electromagnetic frequencies…. ““The Electromagnetic Fields Exclusion (Exclusion 32) is a General Insurance Exclusion and is applied across the market as standard. The purpose of the exclusion is to exclude cover for illnesses caused by continuous long-term non-ionising radiation exposure i.e. through mobile phone usage.” – CFC Underwriting LTD, London.
    So aside from Verizon being morally culpable, they could be legally liable.
    However, since the FCC uses outdated research (and it only applies to thermal effects not biological effects of EMFs), it is difficult to establish a lawsuit without being preempted.
    You should also know that it is fairly well established within 1600 research studies that if you live within 1500 feet of a cell tower, you have a fourfold increase in your risk for cancer.. children a tenfold risk.
    The fact that Verizon received a permit for a cell tower within 100 feet of a daycare (Sunflower Hill), a block from a family who keep having to move because their child is hypersensitive to EMFs, and two blocks of a Montessori is nothing less than morally reprehensible.
    As for property values, it seems generally through a little research, that property drops, on average about 20%. That is essentially a takings by the city for allowing the permit and is unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment.

  2. Gretchen Storm says:

    Tori, thank you so much for your coverage on this! Virginia Village is attempting to work with the Church for the removal of this cell tower built in the middle of our beautiful and prospering neighborhood. We don’t need it and we don’t want it. There are so many commercial locations close by which would be a more appropriate fit for this tower! Thank you again for helping our community’s voices be heard!

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