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Cell Towers: The Good, The Bad, and the...good god did they think we wouldn't see that??
In Townie Tribune
Lori Keenan
Jun 09, 2021
We subscribe to the "they are ugly, devalue our properties, and are inappropriate for historic areas," as well as "don't help Verizon--they never helped us" argument: RE: Cell Tower at Claude Thompson Elementary School Dear Ms. Sloane: The Fauquier School Board is considering a proposal to allow a tall cell tower on property the Board owns behind Claude Thompson Elementary School. As adjoining landowners, we are totally opposed to such a cell tower. To understand the depth of and rationale for our opposition, you must first understand some of the history behind the school and this area. The school adjoins “Frogtown,” a historically black community where many of the land titles date to the period immediately following the Civil War. The original ramshackle elementary school was upgraded with a Rosenwald School, built in 1923/4 to educate the black children in adjacent Frogtown and nearby Rectortown, when county public schools were segregated. Many black residents remember well their days being educated at what ultimately became Claude Thompson Elementary School, named after its longstanding African American principal. Of all the possible sites for a cell tower in Northern Fauquier County, why is Milestone Tower company proposing to install one in the middle of a prominent, historic black community? This strikes us as an environmental injustice. In the early 1960s, the late Robert Morf and his wife transferred the land for building Claude Thompson Elementary School to benefit the school children. Mr. Morf also once owned our farm, now Ballina Farm, that is next door to the school. He mentioned many times to us how proud he was to have assisted the community and its educational efforts with transfer of the land. In the early 2000s, the community fought to keep the school open and renovate it when the Board considered it too small to maintain. Today, Claude Thompson is a small, public elementary school that serves a diverse group of children and is a beloved part of our community. Similarly, when the Nash family sold the small plot behind the school on which the cell tower would be placed, their intention likely was to assist the school with its water storage needs, not to benefit a commercial, for profit enterprise right next to their home and children’s school. In the early 2000s, the Friends of Rectortown, a community nonprofit, sponsored the establishment of an historic district here. Soon thereafter, Goose Creek Association sponsored a larger, encompassing historic district - Cromwell’s Run Rural Historic District - to protect and preserve the entire area with its considerable history and spectacular view sheds across the Blue Ridge foothills to the Paris gap. A young George Washington surveyed this area and Civil War markers note that both sides camped on the land near the railroad that runs through Rectortown. Union General McClellan was headquartered here when President Lincoln sent orders to remove him from command. Claude Thompson Elementary School is an important element in this historic district. Many of the properties in this area are under restrictive conservation easements, including our farm. We did so to protect and preserve the breathtakingly natural beauty of this area. There is no commercial development in Rectortown, aside from equestrian and agricultural related activities, and only a small post office that the residents periodically fight to maintain. A tall cell tower would detrimentally impact the value of our properties by degrading our view shed for years to come. It would be visible coming and going from Rectortown, as well as from our property and others, as well. Positioning a tall cell tower behind the school would ruin the character of our area, and pose health issues for the students and staff at Claude Thompson, as well as the local community. It would be a highly visible, commercial enterprise that benefits for-profit companies more than the school. The school is situated on a small parcel of land that is not appropriate for a cell tower, given the potential health related issues that proximity to such towers can generate, as well as the potential for the tower to be damaged by lightning, endangering nearby properties and the school yard. In addition, if the cell tower is leased to Verizon, it would be rewarding a company that has never been a “good neighbor” to Rectortown. Verizon operates a fiber optic cable across many of our front yards along Rectortown Road, a scenic byway, but consistently has refused to extend reasonably affordable residential fiber optic internet service to the residents here. Our Verizon landline phone service was so poor, that we cancelled it in favor of our more consistent AT&T cell phone service that works quite well. Verizon could colocate with the existing two silo cell towers off upper Rokeby/Crenshaw Roads on the Eastview farm and the tall cell tower at Monomoy on Whiting Road in Marshall. What is the need for a cell tower at Claude Thompson Elementary School? We are but two of the many tax paying residents of this area who stand in opposition to this proposal. Please consider our reasoning and do not vote to support this proposal. Sincerely yours, Florence Keenan and Sean McGuinness keenanlori@gmail.com, seanpmcg@icloud.com
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Lori Keenan

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