William Stefan asked the Fairfax County Planning Commission to pardon his nerves, evident in his voice as he talked about his Fairfax home of 23 years.
“This is the house where we raised our daughters,” Stefan said. “My wife built a beautiful garden in the back yard. We’ve had two visits from the garden club.”
Stefan testified at the commission’s public hearing against a proposed Verizon monopole at 12601 Braddock Road, across the street from the Hampton Forest neighborhood.
“When I sit in that garden I will be looking up at a tower half a football field high with a red light on top. That’s what I will see every night,” said Stefan.
Capt. Bill Towcimak, of Hampton Forest homeowners association, said 557 single family homes are just across Braddock Road from the proposed tower. He testified that 60 percent of households are against the tower, but 40 support the project.
“The impact will be very dramatic,” said property owner Wei Lu.
“I don’t think any of you would want that in your neighborhood. It will impact the community,” said Mary Armstrong. “Why does this tower have to be there? Why does it have to be on this lot?”
THE OPPOSITE VIEW was presented, by both planning commissioners and other neighbors.
“There are significant benefits to improving cell service in the neighborhood,” said Jeffrey Sacks, another neighbor in Hampton Forest.
“I personally recommend approval of this cell tower and I realize I am not going to make any friends tonight,” he said, but “I consider the visual impact very minimal. I know they will disagree.”
“Every year demand for bandwidth increases,” said Providence Commissioner Kenneth A. Lawrence.
“Capacity and bandwidth is of tremendous importance to people,” said Chairman and Springfield District Planning Commissioner Peter Murphy. “When people come here with businesses, they ask, ‘How are the schools?’ And, ‘Do you have a network?’” The proposed tower is in the Springfield District.
“Everybody wants better cell phone coverage, right?” said at-large Commissioner James R. Hart.
“Have you exhausted all other possibilities where you can put this,” said neighbor Ro Burford. “I have a lot of concerns with where Verizon wants to put the tower. We all believe it will impact value of our homes.”
SCOTT PEIRCE, president of Little League Inc. Fairfax, which owns the property, said Little League has no intention of putting a ball field on the property because of drainage and drying issues on the land.
“We’ve owned it for 50 years. We’ve tried to sell it, but it never perks,” he said.
“We were ecstatic that somebody wanted to do something with the land,” he said. Funds from the tower would go to ball field maintenance for the organization.
Mount Vernon Commissioner Earl Flanagan said the tower can be camouflaged. He recommended people go to his Mount Vernon neighborhood to try to locate the monopole there.
“I challenge you to find the tree pole,” he said.
But Kevin Hurley, who had just finished testifying when Flanagan gave the challenge, retorted, “I would ask you to consider how many Verizon executives live next to cell towers,” he said.
Hurley just purchased his home.
“Had I known, I never would have purchased my house,” he said, calling it a “financial blow.”
“It’s disturbing, it’s very upsetting to me,” said Hurley. “I’m concerned about the noise from the generator.”
The proposed monopole is 164-feet tall, proposed on a lot of more than four acres that is undeveloped and has deciduous trees approximately 80 feet tall according to county documents. The monopole itself would be located approximately 251 feet from Braddock Road at the front of the property, 138 feet from the eastern lot line, 590 feet from the rear lot line, and 115 feet from the western lot line. The equipment cabinet compound at the base of the proposed monopole will be screened by an 8 foot tall board-on-board fence.
“WE TREASURE your comments and are glad you are participating in the land use process. We want to make a logical and good recommendation to the Board of Supervisors,” said Murphy.
“I’m glad you are deferring decision on this,” said Burford.
“So am I,” said Murphy, after two hours of discussion on the monopole.
The Fairfax Planning Commission has scheduled a decision only hearing for Feb. 3, after The Connection deadline.