A cellphone tower will be installed in Stanmore Bay in the coming months, however where exactly it will go is currently the source of an ongoing dispute between residents, Auckland Council and telecommunications company Two Degrees.
The original plan of installing the cellphone tower in Stanmore Bay Rd met angry opposition from residents, as a result of which the company looked at alternative options in Stanmore Bay Reserve and on Brightside Rd.
Residents of Stanmore Bay Rd say that they were galvanised into action because they feel powerless to stop the tower being placed on a light pole outside their homes by Two Degrees.
As well as erecting a protest banner, the group of around 25 residents held a public meeting on February 2 and are circulating a petition asking that the pole not be placed in Stanmore Bay Rd.
Chris and Liz Field, who have owned the property adjacent to the proposed site in Stanmore Bay Rd for 20 years, say that they only found out about the proposal when they spotted technicians in the street, and read about it in Hibiscus Matters last November.
Under the Telecomunications Act 2001, companies can install cell sites on the public road reserve without consultation.
“It’s outrageous that a company can put a cellphone tower on the street outside your home without consulting the residents,” Mr Field says.
The couple and their neighbours mainly object to the visual effect of the pole, which will extend 3m above the street light, having the associated large cabinet on their berm, and the possible effect on the re-sale value of their homes.
Mrs Field says that, while she is not particularly concerned about any health effects, people living next to a cell site in nearby Ardern Ave say the cabinet makes a humming sound that has caused sleep disturbance.
She says placing the cell tower in Stanmore Bay Reserve or Brightside Rd would be preferable, however both are strongly opposed by Auckland Council’s parks department.
The Brightside Rd site requires a 19m high tower to clear trees and provide viable coverage. Trees within 50m of the site would need to be kept to their existing heights. This means Two Degrees must go through a notified resource consent hearing if they select this option.
Local Board member John Kirikiri, who has discussed the proposal with residents, Council and Two Degrees, says the issue sets a precedent for the rest of the region when it comes to commercial activities making inroads into public reserves.
“The Reserves Act only allows communications equipment in reserves ‘when they cannot readily be provided outside the reserve’,” Mr Kirikiri says. “Accordingly, Council’s parks’ official position is that they will resist the installation of a cell site anywhere in the reserve.”
Warren Frogley, who has joined the protest on behalf of his brother who lives opposite the Stanmore Bay Rd site, is hoping that a meeting between residents, Council’s parks department, Auckland Transport and Two Degrees will be held this week to sort out a solution. He says, as yet, all the sites have not been properly evaluated, and time needs to be taken to do this thoroughly before a decision is made.
The group has set up a website, which includes a petition asking that cell towers be located away from residential neighbourhoods.
Two Degrees spokesperson Charlene White says the company’s preference is for the Brightside Rd site.
“We are working with Council and residents to see if we can make this proposed site viable,” she says. “However, if we can’t reach a resolution by March 1, we will proceed with the site in Stanmore Bay Rd.”
She says the radio frequency levels around the sites are usually less than one percent of the NZ standard; lower than items like cordless phones.
Images: An alternative site for the cell tower would see it placed near Stanmore Bay reserve. A group of Hibiscus Coast residents are taking a stand against a plan to erect a cellphone tower in their street.
Cellphone tower opponents call meeting
A public meeting to gather support for opposition to cellphone towers in residential areas, has been called by residents of Stanmore Bay Rd. Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and Local Board members will be in attendance. Meeting will be held on February 25, at Whangaparaoa Hall, 717 Whangaparaoa Rd, Whangaparaoa, 4–6pm.