The Town of Farragut Board of Mayor and Alderman (BOMA) passed a resolution at its May 14 meeting urging the Tennesee and United States governments to take actions within their power to halt the deployment of the 5G wireless facilities within local rights-of-way until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reevaluates its decades-old standards.
The resolution goes on to state that the FCC, as the only agency with the authority to do so, should reevaluate through an independent study the adequacy of its radio frequency emissions standards and concludes that the standards are adequate to ensure that the health of the public will not be adversely affected by long-term exposure to radiofrequency emissions due to the placement and operation of 5G wireless facilities.
The effort was spearheaded by Farragut resident, Mike Mitchell, who developed and presented the original proposal to the Farragut BOMA.
Mitchell, who refers to himself as a citizen advocate, told The Tennessee Star that his version focused more on the rights and self-governing authority of Farragut residents and recognized the duty of all governments to protect the peace, safety and happiness of the people, particularly over the rights of corporations.
Mitchell would have had Farragut’s five-member BOMA take a more definitive stance by making it unlawful for any business entity to “engage in the planning, design, construction or operation of High Frequency 5G Wireless digital infrastructure, or to engage in land acquisition necessary for any of these purposes.”
Small cells are base stations or antennas that boost the high-speed but limited-range 5G millimeter waves, also known as Extremely High Frequency (EHF).
Because the EHF waves don’t travel as far, it is estimated that to serve every community, thousands of the antennas will need to be deployed. That puts the installation of poles or towers for the small cells every two to 10 houses.
In the town of Farragut, Mitchell told The Star that it could easily number 4,000 to 5,000 towers installed in the area, some of which have already been installed in Knoxville’s premiere Turkey Creek shopping area.
According to Realtor Magazine, the official magazine of the National Association of Realtors, an overwhelming 94 percent of home buyers and renters surveyed “say they are less interested and would pay less for a property located near a cell tower or antenna.”
“What’s more,” the article about a 2014 study went on to say, “of the 1,000 survey respondents 79 percent said that under no circumstances would they ever purchase or rent a property within a few blocks of a cell tower or antennas, and almost 90 percent said they were concerned about the increasing number of cell towers and antennas in their residential neighborhood.”
A market sales analysis conducted after the survey showed “prices of properties were reduced by around 21 percent after a cell phone base station was built in the neighborhood.”
Mitchell estimates that the installation of 5G towers in the targeted upscale Farragut area in west Knoxville could result in a loss of as much as $200 million in property values. That would not only impact homeowners looking to sell, but Knox County could see a corresponding drop in the associated property tax revenues.
While some cite the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as an assurance of safety of wireless technology, in fact, the 128-page Act includes no safety provisions.
Rather, the stated purpose of the Act is “To promote competition and reduce regulation in order to secure lower prices and higher quality services for American telecommunications consumers and encourage the rapid deployment of new telecommunications technologies.”
The Act goes further to specifically state in Title VII, Sec. 704 (7) (B) (II) (iv) “No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emissions.”
Mitchell told The Star that in 2018, Congress reaffirmed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and raised the radiation levels to accommodate 5G and declared cell towers a utility.
Declaring cell towers a utility, Mitchell says, allows a cell tower to be put in front of your house in the right-of-way, and “there’s nothing that can be done about it.”
Mitchell referred to the Environmental Health Trust (EHT) as a source for information.
EHT is a think tank that promotes a healthier environment through research, education and policy. It is the “only non-profit organization in the world that carries out cutting edge research on environmental health hazards and also works directly with communities, health and education professional, and policy makers to understand and mitigate these hazards,” according to the website.
EHT founder and president, Devra Davis Ph.D., M.P.H., has said “The 5G rollout will dramatically increase the levels of radiofrequency radiation, a pollutant with documented harms to human health and the environment.”
Additionally, Davis points to numerous peer-reviewed research that document the adverse effects from cancer to DNA changes.
A number of other state and local governments around the country have passed resolutions regarding various aspects of 5G, many of which are more stringent than that of Farragut, reports EHT.
Town of Farragut Mayor Ron Williams stated in an email, “It does not say anywhere in our Charter that it is the job of the BOMA to budget finances in order to wage a war on the State of Tennessee to try to abolish a State Law particularly when it is backed by a Federal Law.”
Mitchell argued, however, that the Town of Farragut has spent over $25 million in the past few years on a park, renovating a historic building and a new senior center.
In contrast, as Mitchell pointed out to the Mayor, “To this date the Mayor and Board of Alderman will not spend a single dollar to protect the people of Farragut from a medically unproven cellular technology that will place a powerful cell tower 25 feet from where I sleep.”
Williams said it is up to the state legislature who passed the law, and that all that BOMA can do is “address the few items that we have control with our ordinance which we have underway now.”
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