Neighbors take issue with proposed cell phone tower at MFB headquarters
DAVIDSONVILLE, Md. — Nearby residents are protesting a proposed cell phone tower next to the Maryland Farm Bureau’s office in Anne Arundel County, arguing that it’s unnecessary and spoils the aesthetics of surrounding historic properties.
The Farm Bureau plans to lease a small portion of its 8-acre property on Davidsonville Road to Network Towers LLC, which will build and operate a 140-foot monopole approved by the county government in November.
“We’re in a dead zone right here where our office is,” said John Torres, the Farm Bureau’s executive director. “We know there’s a need, and there’s people around here who know there’s a need.”
Frustrated residents have appealed the county’s approval, saying that Network Towers has exaggerated the necessity for a new tower. They point to Federal Communications Commission data showing that fixed and mobile broadband service is fully available in the area. They also have claimed that the tower will lower property values. An online petition against the project has garnered more than 400 signatures.
“This huge tower would stand a mere 500 yards or so from the center of Historic Davidsonville, and it’s construction directly conflicts with the Farm Bureau’s stated mission,” the petition reads. “It is doubtful that a more intrusive site exists for this type of inappropriate and unsightly structure.”
The Maryland Historical Trust reviewed the project and concluded that it would have “no adverse impact” on nearby historic properties, according to a recommendation by the county’s planning and zoning office in October.
The Farm Bureau supports the expansion of broadband service in rural areas, and Network Towers has met all the county’s requirements, Torres said.
“One of the biggest things about this case is that it’s a small case study for personal property rights,” he said. “At the end of the day, as an organization, we support strong personal property rights if it meets the letter of the law. (Farm Bureau has) met the letter of the law.”
He declined to say how much Network would pay the Farm Bureau to lease the property.
The residents have hired an attorney to represent them as the county considers their appeal. A county clerk said an appeals board ruling is expected by mid-June. Either party could appeal that decision in court.
A GoFundMe page had raised nearly $1,500 as of March 30 to pay for legal fees, and a Fight the Davidsonville Cell Tower group on Facebook had 115 members.