On May 22, 2012 at 6:00 p.m., Burbank residents will ﬁll City Hall in opposition to the construction of a proposed T-Mobile wireless telecommunications facility (WTF). The facility would be built on the roof of The Little White Chapel at 1711 North Avon Street, just 528 feet away from Bret Harte Elementary School and 1,056 feet away from Luther Burbank Middle School. At the meeting, council members will listen to arguments from neighborhood residents and decide whether or not to uphold a previous decision to approve the project made by the Burbank Planning Board.
Three separate appeals were ﬁled in opposition to the proposed tower, and a grass-roots group of parents, property owners, educators, and neighbors has organized to solicit larger community support for the appeals. Residents are concerned about the constant emission of electromagnetic radiation from the tower and the potential for adverse health effects such as an increased risk for cancer. They also believe the tower would decrease property values, and that the generators and air conditioners needed to run the facility would create a nuisance. “We are not against cell towers,” says appellant, Laurie Huber. “We are simply for the safe and responsible placement of cell towers. Industrial commercial equipment does not belong in residential neighborhoods near homes and schools.”
In October 2011, the City of Burbank changed an ordinance to allow for the construction of WTFs in residence-only neighborhoods, as long as the facilities are built on properties for institutional use. “The revised ordinance threatens the character and integrity of R-1 neighborhoods,” states appellant Kathryn Merlo. “It changes Burbank’s best neighborhood assets like parks and schools into places that are detrimental to property value and quite possibly dangerous to children and residents.”
The proposed WTF at the Little White Chapel would be the ﬁrst facility permitted under the new ordinance. Appellant Terry Bruse lives next door to the church. “This cell tower would be on all the time,” he says. “It will be less than 50 feet from my bedroom window. The noise from 24 hours of air conditioning running will be a constant nuisance. I feel let down by elected officials.”
Appellant Roy Wiegand agrees. “I feel like the city and the church are selling us out. This tower is precedent-setting. Because of the ordinance change, towers will be coming to all neighborhoods if we don’t stop it here. This is not just a ﬁght for our neighborhood. It is a ﬁght for all Burbank neighborhoods.”