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?”
“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.
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.
“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.
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.