Monday, September 18, 2000

Pleasant Ridge tower coming down

Replacement will be in French Park

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        AMBERLEY VILLAGE — A controversial monopole tower, built in Pleasant Ridge by AT&T in 1997, will be torn down when a new tower is built in French Park here, about a mile away.

        Verizon Wireless is building the tower for its cellular phone service, but it will be equipped to serve Cincinnati Bell Wireless and GTE Wireless. It also will handle the signals for eight fire and police departments on a radio dispatching system referred to as the Valley Band, which is currently on a smaller tower in French Park.

        Jack Thompson, real estate manager for Verizon Wireless, said construction on the 180-foot tower is expected to start in October.

        “As soon as we get everybody to sign the agreement and get the building permits cleared through the village, we expect to get started,” Mr. Thompson said.

        After a protest by Pleasant Ridge residents in 1997, AT&T officials said they would tear the tower down if they found another suitable location.

        “We made the agreement with the Pleasant Ridge community, and we intend to see that it is honored,” said Mike Pruyn, director of public relations for AT&T.

        Pat Bready, director of public relations for Cincinnati Bell Wireless, now owners of the Pleasant Ridge tower, said the new tower is a suitable site.

        “We are still committed to the agreement,” Mrs. Bready said. “We may lose some clients by relocating, but we will gain some.”

        She said it may take from three to six months to relocate on the new tower and dismantle the Pleasant Ridge tower.

        Tom Hagerty, president of the Pleasant Ridge Community Council who has worked three years to get the tower dismantled, said the council is happy with the arrangement.

        “It was a long task,” Mr. Hagerty said. “It seems as if the tower went up overnight, and it took three years to get it down.”

        The Pleasant Ridge tower was built in a business district on land leased from the National Council of Jewish Women and close to a residential area.

        Residents were upset because they said they were not made aware the tower was being built until construction had begun. They also thought the tower would lower neighborhood property values.

        The protest against the tower spread throughout the northeast Cincinnati neigh borhoodof 9,800, where 53 percent of residents own their homes.

        To get a tower torn down is rare. Anderson Township went through a two-year court battle before losing in its efforts to get two towers torn down. They had been built along I-275 on land zoned residential.

        The Ohio Supreme Court ruled the towers could not be destroyed because they served as a public utility since they were built through an agreement with the telecommunication companies and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

        However, in a similar case in Bath Township, Judge John W. Reece of the 9th District Court of Appeals ruled just the opposite in January 1999. He said Nextel, which had built a tower under the same arrangement with ODOT, did not present evidence that the tower served as a public utility. He ordered it torn down.

        The old tower in French Park will continue to serve the Valley Radio Band until the new one is built, said Amberley Village Police Chief John Monahan.

        The new tower came about because Verizon Wireless needed one in the valley area, but could not find a location and could not co-locate on the old tower. It agreed to build a new one to serve the valley band, with capacity for the telecommunication companies.


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