A couple dozen picket sign-packing protesters lined the 200 block of Harris St. Friday, expressing their civic outrage over a proposed cell phone tower set to rise from the grounds of the Apostolic Faith Church that occupies the block. The church pastor allegedly requested the tower from Verizon to compensate for measly tithing. "We’re the neighbors, and we’re mad," said Henderson Center resident Thao Le Khac. "There are all kinds of unknown health hazards. Plus, the aesthetics hurt our resale values. And we don’t even need it!" Le Khac said.
She and other church neighbors claim they were not given proper notice of the proposed 60 ft. communication beacon, which would be disguised as a bell tower. Eureka City Council candidate George Clark was on hand, showing sympathy and concern. "I heard only five people were notified," Clark told one protester as passing motorists offered honks of support. "The city council doesn’t have an ordinance to regulate cell towers. It needs one. We have to make sure there’s a thorough notification process," he said.
Oh, but there is, said Eureka Director of Community Development Kevin Hamblin. Speaking from his office Friday, Hamblin said "the notification requirement is that notice be mailed (to every resident) within 300 feet." And it was. To prove as much to incredulous residents at a recent city council meeting, the planning staff produced a photocopied list of the mailed address labels and a printout from the department’s postage meter.
"The city council determined that the notification was correct and that it did meet the City’s code," Hamblin said. "But you can’t always guarantee that someone will take notice of the notice." Protesters say, bottom line, if none of them heard about it, not enough notice was given. They plan to return to church grounds every Friday at 1 p.m. until they are appeased.