Group fighting North Bend cell antenna Tower foes plan picnic protest
October 2, 2008 · Updated 6:03 PM
A group of North Bend residents plan to protest a new T-Mobile cell tower in their neighborhood at the moment itll make the most impact.
Theyre timing it for the T-Mobile company picnic.
The group, more than a dozen strong, recently lost their appeal of construction of the 150-foot tower, at the 42100 block of 102nd Street in North Bend, with the King County Hearing Examiner.
They said the tower ruins their views of Mount Si, and have appealed the examiners approval. Theyve asked to move it 50 feet southeast.
To make their views felt, neighbors plan to rally when T-Mobile holds its company picnic Friday, July 11 at the Mountain Meadows Farm, located just down the street.
We just feel we have to do something, said North Bend resident and cell tower opponent Rob Salopek. Its the only opportunity that we have to do something to at least show people that were upset.
The group will gather at noon Friday at Salopeks residence, 10121 420th Ave. S.E.
Salopek finds it ironic that the company will hold their picnic in the same scenery that, neighbors argue, they are spoiling for others.
They get to have their picnic in our backyard, but they wont move the tower a few feet to get out of our neighborhood.
Planned for construction on the property of North Bend resident Jerome Klacsan, the towers height allows T-Mobile to have other cell phone providers place their antennas at the 125 and 110-foot levels.
T-Mobile Spokesman Rod De La Rosa said that the company followed local and state laws in seeking to build the tower.
T-Mobile is engaged with the homeowners through the permitting process and will continue to handle communication through that proper channel, he said.
Residents of the Circle River Ranch neighborhood organized last year to fight the tower, gathering a petition with 90 signatures.
To them, the tower fight isnt about property values, but about the reasons they moved to North Bend: the beauty of Mount Si.
Weve obviously designed and built our homes to capture that view, said Peggy Bindus. None of us is planning to move. Were talking about our day-to-day enjoyment of our home.
Neighbors said they wanted to compromise with the company.
We were just saying Work with us here. Make it lower, make it use stealth technology.
The county is requiring that the tower be painted dark green to blend in with the treeline.
Tom Bindus said that the color of Mount Si is something thats ever-changing. To him, the green-painted pole wont match the grey misty mornings, the winter blues, or when the sun turns the ridge red or gold.
Last February, the county issued a conditional use permit for the tower, deeming that it did not pose significant impacts on the environment. That month, a group of neighbors filed an appeal of the use permit. A public hearing was held June 4, and King County Hearing Examiner Stafford Smith issued his denial of the appeal on June 10. Stafford cited a balloon study performed by T-Mobile, in which a red balloon was tethered to a 150-foot line and floated on the site. Photos taken by the company from the neighborhood show the balloon just above the treeline. In his decision, Smith expressed doubt as to whether some of the appealing neighbors would be able to see the tower at all from their homes.
On June 10, neighbors filed a motion for reconsideration, asking that the tower be moved 50 feet to the southeast. Such a move, they stated, would be a major improvement to the towers impact on their views.
Smith has asked that the tower company submit a plan to move the tower by July 9, or reopen the public hearing.
In the end, neighbors arent sure exactly what the 50 extra feet might achieve.
But its all were going to get, as it sits right now, Salopek said.
We have not won in the courts, he said. We have done everything we can do. The protest is something thats important to us.
This is our sanctuary, Peggy Bindus said. We just feel like we have a little bit of heaven out here.