Jefferson Hills families pushing back on planned installation of cell phone tower

JEFFERSON HILLS, Pa. — A lot of families are thinking about moving out of a Jefferson Hills neighborhood over concerns about a cell tower that is planned to be built across the street from their homes. It would also be next to the football stadium for Thomas Jefferson.

“It’s frightening,” said parent Pamela Smithburger. “I’m afraid for my children.”

A group of mothers in Jefferson Hills reached out to Channel 11 because they are very worried about a Verizon cell tower that’s expected to be installed near their homes.

The cell tower will be on school property and would be about 500 feet away from the Chamberlin Ridge neighborhood and right next to the football stadium for Thomas Jefferson where kids play many games and practices.

“The field is used constantly — it is the practice facility for a lot of club sports, it houses home football games which are very popular,” said parent Jennifer Tosi.

Tosi thinks the cell tower would discourage parents from signing up their kids for sports. She also said they are scared for the children in her neighborhood.

“That’s our biggest concern. We are not going to be comfortable letting them outside all day every day because we have this new unknown piece of equipment so close to us, unsure what type of radiation it’s transmitting,” Tosi said.

According to the American Cancer Society, “At this time, there’s no strong evidence that exposure to radiofrequency waves from cell phone towers caused any noticeable health effects. However, this does not mean that the RF waves from cell towers have been proven to be absolutely safe.”

The West Jefferson Hills School District said they approved a 10-year lease agreement with Tower Co. in March 2023. Tower Co. got all the necessary approvals and permits including zoning from the borough.

On Monday at 7 p.m., the borough council voted to table the proposal. Many parents voiced their concerns to Channel 11 before the meeting.

“We want our voices to be heard and we want to voice our concerns. Jefferson Hills is a large area, consider putting the cell tower not near any homes,” Smithburger said. “We love our community, so we are just trying to protect our children.”

Parents said they were not given a heads up about this but the district said they held multiple public discussions during school board meetings before this was approved. Some parents also said if the cell tower gets the go-ahead from the borough, they will take legal action.

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