EAGLE -- A proposal to put a 110-foot tall cell phone tower right next to Eagle Hills Elementary School has parents and neighbors concerned.
Now the cell tower company is taking its plans back and making some revisions before trying to propose it again. They say the tower would hopefully provide extra revenue to the school district and add service for AT&T customers.
Eagle city planning and zoning staff have voiced their concerns and wanted to recommend that the school deny the proposal because of possible hazards, as well as potential disturbances for the neighborhood and its property values.
"I think most of us here would say that if you located it someplace else that's more appropriate with the zoning that it would be just fine," said Wayne Davis, a local resident opposed to the tower.
Parents and property owners gathered at city hall about the tower on Monday, after fliers were sent to, and posted in, surrounding neighborhoods.
"I guarantee you there will be other families who are not going to let their kids go to school there. I'm not willing in ten years to find out my kids have cancer because of something that was right next to them at their school," said parent Allison Smith.
But with all the outcry over the proposal, the Meridian School District said its research does not leave officials with health concerns.
"Everything that we find shows that once you get to ground level, the level of signal that you're experiencing is similar to the signal that we're experiencing standing anywhere that you're in a cell zone, which is about anywhere anymore," said Eric Exline, spokesman for the Meridian School District.
In fact, the district has already allowed some cell towers to be installed, most of which sit atop sports field light poles at middle and high schools.
"Our response is generally to say yes because it generates typically in a contract a one time payment, in this case in the neighborhood of $30,000, and then you get ongoing funding of about $2,500 a month," said Exline. "And that's none-taxpayer money that can go to hire staff or buy school books or fix buildings, all of those things."
The school district doesn't deal directly in the approval process though, and is now must wait to see how everything shakes out with between the city and the cell tower company.
"They asked for about an eight week continuation so the staff would have time to review the new application and then also look at any changes the applicant may propose," said Bill Vaughan, an Eagle city planning and zoning administrator.
Zoning officials anticipate another public hearing about the tower this fall, perhaps in early November. If it passed there, the city council would still get the final say, with another opportunity to weigh-in on the controversy.
Some districts, like the Boise School District, do not allow towers on their property. Boise officials told KTVB they are generally not comfortable with third party equipment on their land.