On Tuesday, the council will appoint a study group made up of cell phone reps, neighborhood reps and city staff. They are to review the zoning rules for cell phone towers and suggest some changes to protect Lubbock neighborhoods.
Lubbock City Zoning staff say the city has about 50 towers, mostly cell phone towers. One tower which is under 100 feet was recently built on the 4200 hundred block of 50th street. It stands near a neighborhood. We're told there maybe more, however, city staff could not confirm how many more are close to neighborhoods.
How far is too close? The city ordinance does not have a set number of feet of how far a tower must be built from a house. But what it does say is, if a tower were to fall, a house should not fall in the path of the tower.
One citizen told us the tower near her neighborhood does not bother or concern her. "It just went up real quick. You don't even notice it until you hear the talking. Then you look up and see it," said the woman.
But that's not what Councilman Gary Boren says he is hearing from citizens. He supports limiting the number of towers seen in Lubbock's skyline and particularly neighborhoods. "When you get a 150 foot tower in a neighborhood it's not a sightly thing you want to look at out your back door," says Boren.
Last year, Nextel Communications wanted to build a 150 foot cell phone tower on the property of Lubbock Baptist Temple. The tower would have been in a neighborhood near a park. "We contacted a lot of the people immediately around the church and nobody seemed to have a problem with it at that time," said Pastor Wesley Bygel.
Bygel would have financially benefited from having the tower on his property. The tower did not get support from the city council. The request failed. "I can understand them being against it. Probably 90 percent of the residents, like me, have a cell phone and we all want good cell phone service," Pastor Bygel said.
The council wants to review ways existing towers and tall buildings can be used to accommodate cell phone antennas rather than building new towers.
The city council is scheduled to talk about this matter Tuesday morning.