Chandler community petitions against cell tower; city says it can’t be stopped

SunBird Golf Resort community residents have worries about property values and their health. Alaina Kwan reports.
Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 8:01 AM MST
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CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Plans are in motion to build a 65-foot cell tower inside the Sunbird Golf Resort retirement community, and residents are unhappy. Since the proposed plan this past spring that would improve service in the area, some residents have voiced several concerns about the tower and have sent a petition against it to the City of Chandler.

Judy Featherstone, a community resident, submitted a statement in the petition stating: “I am opposed to a cell tower in a residential community. At completion, Sunbird will be the only residential community with a cell phone tower in the middle of it. Approval of a cell tower located in the middle of a residential community will set precedence for the ability to have cell phone towers erected in residential communities in the city of Chandler. Not enough reliable data available on health concerns.”

The petition also stated residents are worried it will set a precedent to build more cell towers in surrounding communities and decrease their home values.

Residents cited a report which says, “Home buyers and renters are less interested in properties located near cell towers and antennas, as well as in properties where a cell tower or group of antennas are placed on top of or attached to a building. 94% said a nearby cell tower or group of antennas would negatively impact interest in a property or the price they would be willing to pay for it”.

On the other side, proponents of the cell tower’s construction say it’s necessary to improve public safety as service is notoriously spotty in the area. Lack of service could impact the ability of residents being able to call for help during an emergency.

Although aware of residents’ concerns, the City of Chandler said it does not have the power to make or reverse these plans due to FCC laws and regulations. Back in 1996, Congress passed amendments to the Telecommunications Act that gave the FCC the power to install or not install telecommunication services.

The city released a statement explaining that “the City of Chandler cannot prohibit cell phone towers within city limits due to federal regulations. The city has aesthetic requirements in place to ensure the towers are hidden from view or look like natural objects such as pine or palm trees. Chandler also imposes limits on tower height and minimum spacing from nearby homes.”

Due to this law, the city said its leaders had no choice but to pass this plan, and all it can do is make sure it blends into the community. City Council passed the cell tower’s user permit on Oct. 19. Atlas Tower is in charge of building the cell tower. They have not announced when it will be installed yet.

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