Get the Cell Out of DeKalb County Schools

  • by:
  • recipient: DeKalb County Commissioners, Public Works, Zoning Officials and Department of Planning & Sustainability, Georgia and DeKalb County State Legislators, DeKalb County School Board, local and national PTAs

As taxpayers, home owners, residents, parents and other concerned citizens of DeKalb County, we are uniting to protest T-mobile's application for zoning permits that would allow them to contruct and operate cell towers on public school property at the following locations: Briarlake Elementary School, Flat Rock Elementary School, Jolly Elementary School, Lakeside High School, Margaret Harris Comprehensive School, M.L. King, Jr. High School, Narvie Harris Elementary School, Princeton Elementary School and Smoke Rise Elementary School. 

We the undersigned represent a countywide opposition to the zoning application(s) that will be placed before you by T-mobile or AT&T for the construction and siting of cell phone towers on the property of nine of our public schools, located in the heart of our residential communities. These schools include: Briarlake Elementary School, Flat Rock Elementary School, Jolly Elementary School, Lakeside High School, Margaret Harris Comprehensive School, M.L. King, Jr. High School, Narvie Harris Elementary School, Princeton Elementary School and Smoke Rise Elementary School.

The school property which is owned by the taxpayers has been zoned as multi-purpose for the intention of providing educational services, sports events, public gathering and recreation. The primary purpose of our beloved schools is to educate the children of our county in a safe and healthy environment, providing them with the essential skills they will need to help them grow, learn and develop into our future leaders an productive members of society.

As citizens who utilize these spaces or pay for them to be managed and maintained, we have never participated in an open forum discussion or any other form of debate or agreement that would have resulted in the approval for these spaces to be utilized by any commercial entity for the express purpose of setting up and operating a money generating commercial operation. We do not approve or desire for our schools to be allowed permitting for “special use” by T-mobile, or any cell phone or tower operation.

It is hereby brought to your immediate attention that any school official, school board member or T-mobile or AT&T representative who may indicate anything to the contrary is not fairly representing us and has not followed any set of guidelines or rules that would have given them the authority to tell you that they are accurately representing us on this issue. We have not been consulted and our input has not been considered.

We are aware of our rights and we are placing our trust in you to look carefully for facts during this process and recognize that there are many contradictions and inaccurate details that will be set before you. We are signing this petition to call to your attention our objections which center around these main areas of concern:

1.) IMPROPER NOTIFICATION: T-Mobile has not followed proper procedures of notification to the residents in the affected area or a public forum for discussion by both sides. The notice that they may reference as the notification for their public meetings can be found here: It is important to note that this notice was given to children, not adults, and it references "various locations" not school property as the intended sites. It also states the purpose is so residents may "be informed" which is vastly different from a forum by which our opinions would be voice and considered. And, the presenters are employed by T-mobile, a company that has no obligation to present anything other than a sales pitch that does not contain anything other than statements to support their interest in securing these locations. In addition, media outlets that were utilized for public notification were given short notice and, in some cases, they were unable to print dates or times that would have only been able to reach a very small segment of the total population affected.

Therefore, a primary concern for your consideration is the non-compliance with the DeKalb County Board of Education Administrative Rule O.C.G.A. 20-2-1160 which requires "public forums from time to time, especially when dealing with controversial issues or matters of deep community concern, to receive input from citizens on policy issues, the educational program, and school administration."

2.) PROPERTY VALUES AND AESTHETICS: We wish to protest the cell tower construction based on the rights of property owners in the surrounding community. The Federal Communications Act of 1996 states that property values and aesthetics are valid reasons for a municipality to deny zoning for a cell tower or antenna.

It is our belief that the towers would create an eyesore in the community even if an attempt is made to disguise the tower as a tree. The unsightly tower along with fear of living near one would result in lower property values which, in turn, would lower the amount of property tax collected. A cost / benefit analysis has not been conducted that would take this fact into account.

3.) NO NEED: We protest based on the fact that there is not a need for better cellular coverage in these areas. Please enter the street address for each school you are asked to consider into to review a true picture of the existing towers and antennas currently in place for these areas. It is our belief that basic cellular communication is not an issue in a developed metropolitan area such as DeKalb County. The towers that are being requested for zoning are intended for the next generation of wireless communication which is primarily a high-end service for the purposes of streaming video games and HD quality movies. There is nothing in public record that would indicate that these services should be considered an urgent or necessary service being demanded by these segments of our population.

In addition, a pending merger with AT&T would significantly change the needs of T-mobile and therefore the true purpose of the agreement may not be in the best interest of the residents or the school system.

4.) NON-COMPLIANCE TO REQUIRED CODES: We have information that T-mobile will be presenting to you for consideration. We urge you to check the current codes to ensure they are compliant and that they have considered all aspects of safety that would be necessary for siting such a structure at locations that would have residents and children, homes and schools with the "fall zone" of such structures, within the "fall zone" of ice during winter and within the HAZMAT danger zone. We also urge you to consider the implications to our local safety officials and fire stations to ensure they are equipped to handle an emergency situation that could occur. Any costs necessary to ensure our public safety and the safety of our children should also be a factor because the burden of these increased costs will unfairly fall again on the taxpayers who will receive no increase in value as a result.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. We will follow this issue closely and urge our friends and neighbors to do the same. We proudly join the growing community of citizens across the country who are standing up to these assaults and helping zoning officials and others involved in the process to do the right thing for the students and community that lives near and supports the school. The issues stated here are only a few of the many reasons we urge you to deny zoning for cell towers proposed 

In addition, although the FCC Telecommunications Act of 1996 specifically denies us the right to protest based on the potential healthy effects of RF Radiation when a tower is compliant with federal limits, we do not believe the limits are sufficient in light of more recent studies and sudden growth and proliferation of cellphone towers and wireless devices in the past few years.  We urge the support of any legislation either at a local or state level that would be in an effort to limit or prevent the placement of towers on school grounds and ask that  you please consider the potential of health effects on young children who have not been the subject of research regarding their exposure to radiation.

Cell towers emit constant low-level non-ionizing radiation which was not considered in its cumulative effect at the time of the FCC Telecommunications Act.  And, more recently, it has been the subject of concern because it is no longer accepted science to believe that the thermal effects are the only means by which tissue can be damaged.  Children are at the greatest risk, followed by pregnant women, the elderly and the sick or diabled.  All these populations are important citizens of our county that you have taken oath to protect or serve.

The WHO in May 2011 upgraded its rating of cell phones and other wireless devices to "possible human carcinigen."  We urge the use of the precautionary principle, or "prudent avoidance," until more is known about the methods by which we might be harming our own future.  No short-term payoff is worth a human life or risking a large-scale disaster in health care while waiting for more evidence to come in.  The time to act is now.   Thank you!
The concerned parents, residents, guardians, business owners, homeowners and others who have voluntarily and electronically signed this petition.

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