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Central Roxborough Civic Association Meeting Minutes

August 6, 2015

Next CRCA meeting will be held September 10, 2015.

CRCA President Don Simon announced that CRCA’s General Meeting would be held September 10, 2015. Representatives from the Planning Commission planned to attend to present on the Ridge Corridor Zoning Overlay.

Zoning: Special Exception for a Verizon cell phone tower in the steeple of Leverington Presbyterian Church

The ZBA Hearing is scheduled for August 18, 2015, but Verizon intends to request a continuance until the following month.

This cell tower will be a larger “macro” wireless telecommunications station that will be “completely screened from view”. The plan is to replace the existing steeple and spire at the church and to add an emergency generator system.

The attorney for Verizon noted that following last month’s general CRCA meeting at which the installation of a “micro” tower at Verizon’s facility on Terrace Street was discussed, the company has engaged in conversations with the Terrace Street neighbors and has cleaned up plants and graffiti at the site in response to community concerns.

Mr. Gorney, an engineer for Verizon, then took over the presentation. He explained that there would be antennae (each one a 120 degree directional antenna, for a total of 360 degree coverage) installed in 3 locations within the church’s steeple (one in current stone part of steeple and one in current metal spire). Parts of the steeple and the entire spire will be replaced with fiberglass parts designed to match the look of the original materials (i.e. the new fiberglass spire will resemble the existing weathered copper spire).

Pastor Palmer of Leverington Presbyterian was in attendance and assured those present that the church had carefully considered whether to allow the installation and fully supports the project. “We are hopeful that this will be a win-win situation” in that cell coverage for the community will be increased and the church can receive funds to maintain the historic structure. Other church decision-makers likewise expressed approval for the project and associated aesthetics.

Mr. Gorney went on to describe that there would be an equipment room installed in the church basement, an approximately 10’ x 16’ area for the storage of radio equipment. Because this radio equipment gives off heat, Verizon will be installing new HVAC units at the church.

There will also be an emergency generator located outside the church but hidden from view. The noise from the generator, according to Mr. Gorney, is comparable to a lawnmower running in the background. Fuel for the generator will come from the street.

Community members then asked questions.
Q: Is this a bi-directional or uni-directional antenna?
A: All 3 antennae are bidirectional.

Q: Can Verizon provide material samples and mock-up?
A: Mr. Gorney circulated materials from the company (Edon Fiberglass Co.) that will be creating the fiberglass replacement spire. The company is based in Horsham.

Brian, a radio engineer for Verizon, then took over the presentation. He explained that the installation at the church would increase coverage a ½ mile to ¾ in the area around the church.

A member of the community then expressed concerns about potential effects of electromagnetic radiation exposure as a result of the tower. Brian responded that the outgoing charge was well within FCC safety mandates, and that even if operating on full power, would be 100 times below the acceptable FCC level. The community member continued to question the safety of radio waves on children’s physical and cognitive wellbeing.

A vote of the community was taken, with the majority of those present voting to support the installation.

Fleming Street Update

At the August CRCA meeting, there was a presentation by an attorney for a property owner who wished to construct a new home with a front-facing garage. The CRCA voted to oppose the proposed variance, and the said variance was subsequently denied at the ZBA hearing.

502 Gerhard Street

The owner of the property was not in attendance. There is a ZBA hearing scheduled for 8/12/15. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether the property will be zoned residential or mixed-use commercial.

The lot is already under development, and a table of neighbors present expressed their ongoing dislike for the project – whether it ends up being 12 residential units with 2 commercial units or 14 residential units. Representatives for the developer would like the ZBA to declare the property as zoned residential, thereby providing for 14 residential units by right without the requirement of 2 commercial units in the front of the property.

Community members present expressed concerns over parking and with the developer’s attitude toward the neighbors.

A vote was taken whether the support the request to add 2 additional residential units to the project in lieu of 2 commercial units. The majority of those present voted to oppose.

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