Hi my name is Cara Hull. I am compelled to write about my husband, Jeff, in honor of Father’s Day. Jeff and I met 12 years ago and have been married for over 7 of them; needless to say we have been through a lot of ups and downs together. Jeff and I have moved all over the beautiful state of New York. We lived the city life for several years until we got pregnant and decided to settle down in the country to raise our son. In the four years we have lived in our little house we have added an additional son, a dog, chickens, a garden, fruit trees, berry bushes and various other upgrades to our house. We are living the American dream … well, we were.
Everything changed early October 2020, sure we were in the middle of a global pandemic, I was eight months pregnant and we were preparing as best as we could for a delivery without having family or friends allowed in the hospital. My husband walked to the mailbox and opened a letter from the town of Verona, NY. I thought how odd, we never get mail from the town; we continued to read and we were notified of one of my biggest fears. Our neighbor who lives around the block from us was allowing Verizon to build a cell tower on his property. This tower would be 400’ from our property and the center view from our back porch and my children’s windows. Our concerns ranged from it ruining the aesthetics and property values of over a dozen homes to the most concerning, the health of our children.
My husband and I live a natural lifestyle. We don’t use chemicals, we ditched our microwave several years ago, we eat organic, grow what we can, use products that are EWG approved, we do all the things we can to protect our kids and our health. We couldn’t believe the battle we were about to go through to fight for our family’s safety. It’s still mind blowing that the FCC hasn’t updated their safety regulations on cell towers in over 20 years. As parents we sifted through hundreds of articles all pointing to one thing, living near cell towers is not safe.
Jeff is trained in detection and identification of ionizing radiation for his law enforcement agency, so learning about non-ionizing radiation was new to both of us but slightly more intuitive given his experience. When we received the initial notification we immediately decided to speak with our neighbors, leading us to discover that we had been one of the only families notified. This is where my husband stepped up and fought for our family and community.
Verizon’s Sneaky Strategies, Repeated in Many Communities
The town of Verona and Verizon had failed to meet local town law and notify the approximately 26 neighbors about a height variance hearing for the 184’ structure, which was planned for 13 days from receipt of the letter. A closer look at the application showed that Verizon had used a misleading address; the address which was the size of a postage stamp instead of the 100+ acre proposed property. Having to notify all properties within 500’ from the proposed property, the deceptive 1-acre property would require many less notifications. Other issues discovered were that the proposed location directly abuts a wetland that hosts hundreds of wildlife species in our area, the water level sampling was conducted in the dry season, the carrier failed to prove a necessity of the tower and used coverage gap information that contradicted their own company website. In addition, they left out important structural details on their application and when questioned by the town engineer of these details Verizon ignored requests and failed to respond.
Citizen Investigation, Citizen Action
My husband along with several of the neighbors took time out of their extremely busy lives and attended every town board, zoning board and planning board meeting each month to ensure the town and Verizon were aware of the overwhelming opposition of the placement of the proposed cell tower in Verona, NY, while ensuring the town was fully aware of the rights of the residents. The proposed tower would be the 3rd major tower within a 2 mile radius, posing serious health risks to all those who reside in the area. Approximately 20 children reside within 500’ of the proposed parcel causing many of us great concern for their health especially. It has been well documented and researched extensively that a child’s thinner skull leaves them more susceptible to negative health effects due to chronic RF exposure, even at low non-ionizing radiation levels.
Once the town of Verona realized the application had some errors, along with some flaws in our own town’s cell tower law, they proposed a cell tower moratorium. This was immediately alarming to all of us fighting this battle. Knowing that the FCC requirements for approving or denying an application state that the application must be decided within 150 days of receipt, we knew that the 150-day shot clock would expire in the middle of the moratorium, leaving us without a chance to speak our opposition. We went on to hire an attorney who wrote a memorandum of opposition to the proposed cell tower and encouraged our town board not to enact the moratorium. My husband went to the meetings and spoke up strongly in opposition, outlining how the FCC shot clock works. The town decided against proceeding with the moratorium.
As the fight progressed, the town of Verona held a meeting to update its cell tower laws. Again, my husband along with several other concerned neighbors attended. At this meeting the town lawyer had proposed removing some of the laws we had in place to protect the aesthetic value of the town and a section which protected the property values of the residents. Jeff spoke out strongly against the changes and repeatedly questioned their intent in changing the perfectly good sections of the law to something that removed the protection of the town’s residents. Between Jeff and a couple other residents who were in strong opposition, the town sided with the residents and made very minimal changes to the satisfaction of those in attendance. The next afternoon, my husband received a phone call from one of the town councilmen, stating Verizon withdrew their application. We are hopeful Verizon has moved on to a more appropriate location for the tower; if not, we will be ready to fight.
“Parents Against Cell Towers in Residential Areas”
Throughout the battle with Verizon, my husband did what every amazing father would do. He researched and fought tooth and nail to allow us to keep the home we love, our children and the neighborhood children safe. He purchased an RF meter and started helping friends by do readings around their homes to show them how to reduce RF exposure for their children. In addition, he did readings at varying distances from local cell towers, he measured RF from baby monitors, cell phones, wireless headphones, WiFi, microwaves, streaming devices and shared his findings on YouTube and social media outlets to help other parents make smarter choices for their family’s health. If you are interested in watching these videos you can find our story and several of these videos on the Facebook page we created “Parents Against Cell Towers in Residential Areas” and his YouTube page.
Furthermore, he helps other communities who are fighting the same battles with cellular companies. He spends his personal time on phone calls, zoom meetings, emails and messages corresponding with individuals giving advice and offering a helping hand with anything he can in their fight. He does this all while balancing a demanding job, spending time with his family and assistant coaching a local t-ball team.
No parent should ever be put in the position of having to choose between their home and their children’s safety. I am truly blessed and grateful for my husband and the other fathers that reside on my road and nearby in our community that helped us fight Verizon to keep the cell tower out of our neighborhood. It’s easy to trust that the government and associated agencies have our best interest at heart, but when you start to question their motives you begin to learn what matters most and often it is not the interests or health of the people. I want to personally thank all the dads in this battle against cell towers in residential areas, it does not go unnoticed, Happy Father’s Day! – Cara Hull
This is part of a Father’s Day 5G series which you can read in its entirety HERE.
Patricia Burke works with activists across the country and internationally calling for new biologically-based microwave radio frequency exposure limits.She is based in Massachusetts and can be reached at [email protected].
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