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Jefferson County 911 Dispatch Tower Opposed in Arnold

Emergency workers say the new tower would fix dead spots for police, sheriff, fire or ambulance transmissions; the city’s planning commission denied a permit to build it.

A proposed tower that emergency workers say could help patch dead spots in Jefferson County’s communications system is at the heart of a controversy in Arnold on two fronts.

Building the 309-foot tower on the property of DeClue and Sons Tree Care, 3500 Telegraph Road, would require city council approval because it would be 110 feet taller than the city’s regulations allow.

Residents have been speaking out against the tower at recent planning commision meetings. At one August meeting, 18 Arnold residents opposed the tower, saying they feared it would be dangerous in powerful tornadoes, reduce property values and expose them to cancer-causing radiation.

"If the tower falls it has a possibility of hitting the gasoline (pipeline). When it blows, it will be a disaster," said James Geisler according to the Aug. 28 meeting minutes.

The tower would be approximately 100 feet from CenterPoint Energy's buried pipeline, however they do not see any problems with the location according to city officials.

At the same time, first responders say the city may be powerless to stop the project because federal law requires the county to upgrade its communications system — a requirement that sticks in the craw of some city council members.

The controversy came up at a recent city council work session where first responders were invited to answer questions about the proposed radio and microwave communication tower, which needs a conditional use permit because of its height. Jefferson County 911 Dispatch has requested the permit. The city set a second public hearing on the matter for Oct. 18.

City staff OK’ed the project, but the city’s planning commission denied it. Now it’s up to the council, which can override the planning commission. The council will vote on the tower after the October public hearing.

The communications tower would provide crystal clear service for any police, sheriff, fire or ambulance crew operating in the Arnold area, according to Jefferson County 911. Officials said there are several known dead spots in the current system where radios do not work and that sometimes first responders need to go back to their vehicles to access more powerful radios.

The new system would also include replacement radio equipment for Arnold Police, route: {:controller=>"listings", :action=>"show", :id=>"arnold-police-department"} -->,

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