At the June 20 Mayor and City Council meeting, the City Council authorized the city manager to execute an agreement with Verizon Wireless to install a cellular tower at Morris Park, which is located near Summit Hall Elementary School. The resolution passed 4-1, with Councilmember Robert Wu voting against.
During the public comment period, Gaithersburg residents and Janis Sartucci with the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland spoke in opposition to the cell tower. Among the issues raised were lack of adequate notification of residents and Summit Hall Elementary officials, placement of the cell tower between two ball fields and near an elementary school, the safety of hazardous materials used in the cell tower, the location of the cell tower on a flood plain, and potential health concerns arising from radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by the tower.
Councilmember Ryan Spiegel reminded those gathered that per Federal Communications Commission (FCC) law, the city cannot consider concerns about the effect of RF-EMR on human health in its cell tower approval process. Councilmember Robert Wu demurred, noting that the city may be able to consider this as the owner of the Morris Park property.
According to the city, a public discussion was held on March 7 in response to a request from Verizon Wireless to replace an existing light pole at Morris Park with a cell tower and associated structure. Following the public discussion, the majority of councilmembers directed staff to move forward with negotiations with Verizon Wireless. The initial agreement runs for five years with four successive automatic renewals of five years each. The monthly rental is set at $1,800 and will increase annually by three percent.
City Manager Tony Tomasello and staff will work to finalize the draft lease with Verizon Wireless. Income from the tower will begin at $21,600 per year.
City Council Approves Nonprofit RFP Program Grants
At the June 20 Mayor and City Council meeting, the City Council approved $283,850 within the adopted fiscal year (FY) 17 City of Gaithersburg Operating Budget to provide funding to nonprofits to serve city residents in the areas of Housing Stabilization and Transportation Assistance and Health and Mental Health Services. The nonprofit RFP contracts are with Gaithersburg-based Family Services, Inc. for $160,780 for housing preservation and transportation assistance, and Bethesda-based Mobile Medical Care, Inc. for $123,070 for adult health and mental health assistance. The FY17 budget awards a total of $690,000 in eight RFP scope of service areas.