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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2013 4 years ago

Cellular antennas concern Seagate resident

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Seagate condominium owner Katherine Matthews is worried cellular antennas on her building’s roof are affecting her health.

The Seagate Condominium Association Inc. board of directors has been attempting to get antennas placed on the roof of its 15-story condominium building since April 2004, and it signed a contract with AT&T in June 2012. In February, New Tech Construction Corp. placed nine antennas in three separate containers on the top of the building, which is 150 feet tall.

Matthews wrote a letter to the Seagate board June 20, 2012, explaining she is the only owner on the top floor of the building who lives there all year long and expressed her concern about where the antennas would be placed.

In February, she came home from a cruise to find the antennas being placed in close proximity together above her apartment at 2425 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

“They are right over my apartment and 20 feet from the bed I sleep in every night,” Matthews said.

A resident of Longboat Key for 20 years, Matthews said the board dismissed her concerns, refused to give her a copy of the contract with AT&T and won’t return her calls. She sent a letter dated March 20 to the board asking for a copy of the contract.

“Why couldn’t they spread the towers out?” Matthews said. “I just want some answers and want to know if they can be altered to limit my exposure to radiation.”

In an email to then Seagate President Fred Herzog dated June 20, 2012, Matthews outlined her wish that the towers be spread out, though, at the time, the board had not released the location of the towers.

“The proximity of radio waves from the cellular towers is a serious concern regarding my health,” Matthews wrote.

In an April 8, 2004, letter to unit owners, the Seagate board addressed concerns about radiation from the antennas by stating, “We have contacted the FCC … it appears we have as much to fear, perhaps more, from a microwave oven than from an FCC regulated cellular antenna,” the letter states.

The Seagate board also stated in that letter the antennas could generate an annual income of $60,000 to $72,000 per year through a lease with AT&T, stating Seagate needed “to seize the opportunity.” Seagate became interested in the endeavor after it discovered its neighbor, Islands West, and several other south-end condominiums receive similar antenna revenue streams.

Seagate condominium Manager Cheryl Fox declined to comment and said she would relay the Longboat Observer’s contact information to current Seagate President Janet Love. Love had not called back the Observer as of press time.

Matthews said she should be at least 100 feet away from the towers and has researched safe radio frequency fields that lead her to believe she is not safe.

“I’m having trouble sleeping and have mental excitation because of this,” Matthews said.

Federal Communications Commission guidelines state:

“When cellular antennas are mounted on rooftops, radio frequency emissions could exceed higher than desirable guideline levels on the rooftop itself, even though rooftop antennas usually operate at lower power levels than freestanding power antennas. Such levels might become an issue for maintenance or other personnel working on the rooftop. Exposures exceeding the guideline levels, however, are only likely to be encountered very close to, and directly in front of, the antennas. Individuals living or working within the building are not at risk.”

Planning, Zoning and Building Director Robin Meyer said the department issued a permit for the antennas Oct. 24, after New Tech Construction Corp. met the requirements for antenna placement.

“They’re the experts in this case and know how to install antennas without affecting the safety of condominium residents,” Meyer said.

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