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Grand Lakes residents mobilize against cell tower

November 25, 2018

The proposal to build a 140-foot tall cell tower near their master-planned community galvanized residents of Grand Lakes.

They are circulating petitions, collecting proxy votes and doing research on cell tower impacts on health and property values. They are preparing for a Dec. 3 meeting of the Grand Lakes Homeowners Association board where they intend to present their information to sway board members to oppose the project.

The proposed tower is a project of Vertical Bridge Holdings, based in Boca Raton, Fla. A company spokesman could not be reached for comment by presstime.

The cell tower is proposed for vacant commercial property west of Home Depot and behind the McDonald’s off Sout Fry Road, according to the homeowner association’s website.

According to www.grandlakeslife.com, “The cellular tower proposed will look like a pine tree like the one across from Seven Lakes Junior High School on Katy-Gaston Road.”

T-Mobile would be the initial user of the tower.

“However, it is anticipated that once the tower is constructed and under power most, if not all, major providers will lease space to provide improved reception to the area. It is estimated that the tower would provide better cell reception within roughly a 2 miles radius from the tower,” according to the website.

Ten-year Grand Lakes resident Lijuan Wang and 12-year Grand Lakes resident Lillian Taylor are among those residents objecting to the tower and working toward stopping its construction.

“To prepare for the meeting, we are trying to collect information to support our concerns regarding the impact of the tower,” said Wang, referring to health risks associated with cell tower radiation and how it might lower property values. Grand Lakes has more than 2,700 homes.

She was among residents who protested the tower on Nov. 17 when a subcontractor conducted advance tests related to the project.

“We have signatures from 400 households,” she said. By the time of the meeting, she anticipates having more. When she started on Nov. 4, she said she went door to door talking to neighbors and collected 60 signatures in one afternoon.

Both she and Taylor noted many residents were unaware of the project and they are working to promote awareness.

Wang said alternatives to cell towers exist that allow cell phone users to improve their reception.

While Taylor calls the proposed project “an eyesore,” she said the priority is the potential adverse health risk to pregnant women and their babies, children or any person. She noted that the subdivision is home to two elementary schools, two junior highs and one high school.

Taylor said the tower project has unified neighbors. “It took us to the point of recognizing that we’re going to take care of each other.”

karen.zurawski@chron.com

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