By Crystal Thompson
A handful of concerned citizens approached the Havre City Council last night regarding the city-approved construction of wireless cellular phone towers on a water tower in the Highland Park residential area.
Ray Hentschel presented the council with a petition signed by 65 community members who expressed concern over the safety hazards of the microwaves exerted near the towers. The petition called for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be made before construction of the towers.
Members of the citizens' group questioned Triangle Telephone General Manager John Magyar and Advanced Services Supervisor Tim Hodges about the long-term effects of the microwaves on future generations. Hentschel asked TTC whether it was willing to accept responsibility should problems arise in the future.
Hodges addressed the audience and the council by saying first that the site has been inspected by a radio frequency firm, and that electrical engineers are hired to ensure that the area meets all FCC and OSHA regulations. Hodges said that location is key to the wireless services that TTC hopes to provide to the Havre community. Hodges added that there is currently no federal mandate requiring an EIS for construction of these towers.
Hodges told the council that his four children currently live within 1,000 feet of a tower, and he is confident in the towers' safety. Hodges asked those present to consider the amount of microwaves already in use in the community. Qwest, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, local law enforcement, government and schools all use wireless technology, he said. "This isn't a new issue," Hodges added.
Other concerns voiced by the audience included property depreciation and zoning regulations. "I don't want this in my backyard," Hentschel said, "Every night I'll go to bed and I'll think about that tower across the street."
The council agreed to look over the information presented by Hentschel and discuss the matter further. Also discussed at last night's meeting:
Minutes from the March 5 council meeting were approved.
A housing program request from Bear Paw Development was approved.
Craig Erickson of Bear Paw Development updated the council on the current and future uses of CTEP funds. A public meeting was set for May 21 at 7 p.m. to obtain ideas for the 2001 CTEP allocation of funds.
Resolution 3343, a resolution adopting an Internet acceptable use policy to the Employee Manual was approved.
Resolution 3344, a resolution adopting arrest policies in domestic violence matters was approved.
The council accepted the appointment of Tim Carroll as probationary police officer for the Havre Police Department, per a written request from Chief Kevin Olson.
The council approved a letter of confirmation for Ryan Lynder, who completed his one year probationary period with the Havre Police Department.
Emily Mayer-Lossing spoke on the Main Street USA program. The program focuses on historic preservation and has been talked about extensively in previous years. Mayer-Lossing requested that a committee be created to focus on making the program a reality in Havre. Paul Tuss, executive director of Bear Paw Development in Havre, said that he and his organization would be willing to work with the city on this project. A motion was made to set up a time for a public meeting to organize the program.
The Finance Committee reported on its 7:15 p.m. meeting. They requested approval of several budget transfers, the transfers were approved by the council.
The Streets and Sidewalks Committee reported on its Feb. 26 meeting. The committee voted to give the Mayor the permission to sign the Leeds Subdivision agreement, including six conditions. The council approved the vote.
The Park and Recreation committee set a meeting for April 2 at City Hall.
The Water and Sewer Committee reported on its 7 p.m. meeting regarding the water plant contract agreement with Williams Bros. Construction for a two month extension. The agreement was approved by the council.
The Police and Fire Committee reported on its 7:30 p.m. meeting. The council approved the fire department mutual aid agreement.
The Ordinance Committee reported on its 7:30 p.m. meeting.
All motions were approved unanimously by the council. The next regular meeting is set for April 2 at 8:00 p.m. at Havre City Hall.