and Parallel won permission from the Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals
on Wednesday to erect a 150-foot telecommunications tower by unanimous vote
at 19 West U.S. 6 in Liberty Twp.
The property is
located on the same parcel as the Pet Haven Pet Shop, zoned as a high
intensity commercial district, which sits south of the Whispering Sands
Manufactured Home Community.
Verizon, Bryan Donley said the area has had interruptions with service at
“peak times” of the day due to a high volume of cellular phone users and
surrounding cell tower sites in a few miles’ radius are becoming overloaded
with data. Residents have asked for “better signal levels and quality” of
reception, Donley said.
Donley said the
high cell phone usage around Porter Regional Hospital has contributed to the
problems caused by saturation. Coverage also experiences difficulties other
times such as when large events are held at Sunset Hill Farm County Park on
the corner of Meridian Rd., Donley said. The difference of elevation along
Meriden Rd. has provided challenges as well, he added.
BZA member Marvin
Brickner said he lives in the area and has had problems with cell phone
coverage in the way that the petitioner described. He said he understands
the problems with saturation due to the relocation of the hospital.
“It’s gotta be
about ten times as much as a few years ago,” he said.
Brickner said he
had no problem with the location, agreeing it is “needed” because of the
hospital, but said he’s puzzled why the technology hasn’t gone further in
improving coverage. If it doesn’t improve, there will be cell towers just
about everywhere, he said.
“What are we going
to do when all these towers get saturated? I think there are about nine cell
towers in this area. And it’s not coverage; they’re all saturated,” said
Donley said the
technology is mandated by the Federal Communications Commission and this is
what wireless carriers are allowed to provide the coverage,” said Donley. He
said he is not sure if there is technology yet that can increase the
BZA member Mitch
Peters asked Donley if other locations were researched. Donley said other
parcels were researched, specifically the parcels zoned “appropriately” for
cell tower usage, mainly commercial properties. He said that Verizon reached
out to all the parcels in the area and the pet shop property was the only
one that showed interest.
Donley provided the
board with statistics indicating the growing use of cell phones. About 97
percent of all adults in America have a cell phone, many of them keep it for
emergencies. The FCC reports that 47 percent of Americans only use cell
phones and no landlines. Approximately 70 percent of 911 calls come from
Voting in favor of
the petition were Peters, Brickner, Luther Williams, Michael Young and Board
President Debbie Cook-Kerr.