NORTH STRABANE TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Crown Castle Communications is planning to put up a cell tower in North Strabane, but prior to a public hearing tonight, Crown withdrew their application.
Due to a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, it’s now decided that municipalities don’t have jurisdiction over cell towers, the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission does.
With 40,000 cell towers nationwide, Crown now wants to build their 40,001st on a tiny right of way in a residential neighborhood in North Strabane.
“Just the perception of the danger of it,” said Allison Frey, a resident of the neighborhood. “It will keep the prices of housing values down. If she wants to sell her hours, nobody is going to want to buy it with a cell tower in front of it.”
It’s not just property values. The tower site is right next door to two schools, North Strabane Intermediate, and Borland Manor Elementary. Parents fear it will put their children at risk.
“Shouldn’t we do some long-term studies to really look at the safety and health effects that could potentially have on our children?” Asked Nicole Rotello, a concerned parent. “So what we want Crown Castle to do is simply choose a different location.”
A hearing on the tower abruptly ended Wednesday night when Crown Castle withdrew their application to North Strabane Township. The state supreme court ruled that North Strabane has no say in the matter.
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has determined that the zoning hearing board does not have jurisdiction in these types of cases,” said Steve Taczak, the Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor. “That lies solely with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.”
The commission will have the final say on the tower, but residents say they plan to fight it there.
Crown Castle has not yet responded to a request for comment.