by Derrick Broze, Waking Times:
On March 6, the Danville Town Council voted four to one to block a permit for an upcoming small cell wireless installation by Verizon. During the meeting, Danville Mayor Robert Storer stated that the vote was an effort to stand up to the federal government and telecommunications companies, like Verizon.
The Danville Town Council’s decision to deny the land use-permit for the small cell opens the town to possible lawsuits from Verizon.
“We’ve made a lot of difficult decisions over the years, and this one is right up there in my top three. But that is exactly why somebody elects us to do the right things,” Mayor Robert Storer said during the council meeting. “We’ve lost local control and this says: ‘You know what? We are sick of this and we’re not going to just sit here and be bulled over.’ We say no; we play our cards out. We’ve been in lawsuits before.”
The installation of small cell sites is taking place around the nation as the U.S. government and telecommunications companies roll out 5th Generation—or 5G—cellular technology. The new technology is expected to herald the beginning of Smart Cities, where driverless cars, pollution sensors, cell phones, traffic lights, and thousands of other devices interact in what is known as “The Internet of Things”. However, there have been a number of health and privacy concerns raised by opponents of the rapidly advancing 5G technology expansion.
The controversial vote came after the Town Council had been inundated with complaints and concerns from Danville residents who worry the new small cell site and other 5G related infrastructure could have negative health effects. The installation of small cells and other 5G infrastructure is opposed by Danville Citizens for Responsible Growth (DCRG), a local group who has been putting pressure on the Town Council since at least October 2018.
That month the Danville Planning Commission approved a land-use permit for the small cell site owned by Verizon. On November 2, DCRG filed an appeal challenging the approval. The group has been battling Danville officials since and was successful in convincing most of the council to vote against the permit. However, despite many of Danville’s residents expressing concerns regarding health, the council voted against the permit because the chosen location was intrusive.
Danville SanRamon reports:
“The Danville The decision to deny the permit was based on the council majority claiming that the proposed location was not the least intrusive site possible, that better alternative locations may exist and that the applicant had not adequately demonstrated the proposed facility would meet federal radio frequency standards — all of which went against the recommendation of town staff.”
In fact, Danville city attorney Robert Ewing noted that the Federal Communication Commission heavily regulates the installation of wireless cell sites and in the process limits local government’s ability to enact their own regulations.
“While potential health concerns are a huge concern, if that was the basis on which you were making a decision I would be fairly confident to tell you that you would lose, because that’s about as clear as the law can get,” Ewing said at the meeting. “As much as I understand the concern folks have over safety, what I can tell you is that if you make a finding based on potential health impacts of RF, then I will tell you that my opinion is you would lose.”
According to the FCC’s regulations, local governing bodies are not allowed to even consider health risks when making their decisions. This is because the federal law known as the Wireless Communications Act of 1996 prohibits local jurisdictions from considering perceived health effects when taking an action on a proposed facility. Instead, cities and towns can only regulate cell sites based on the aesthetics and placement of the devices. This problem was only made worse in September 2018, when the FCC passed a new rule which put the federal government in complete control of the 5G rollout.
This is why Danville Mayor Storer talks about losing local control. The federal government and their partners in Big Wireless have usurped local control of our communities. Danville Councilwoman Renee Morgan advised the people of Danville not to stop their efforts to expose this loss of power.