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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 24, 2001

AT&T to move Mililani cellular antenna

By James Gonser
Advertiser Central Bureau

MILILANI MAUKA — Having secured the necessary neighborhood board approvals, AT&T Wireless Services Inc. is moving ahead with a plan to take down its cellular telephone antenna near area homes and erect one in the Mililani Mauka District Park less than half a mile away.

The 57-foot antenna was installed in September next to a VoiceStream antenna after the city granted a conditional-use permit.

But the antenna is only about 20 feet from the nearest home, and neighbors worry about possible health risks from radio frequency and electromagnetic fields.

AT&T representatives gave presentations on the move to both the Mililani Mauka/Launani and the Mililani/Waipi'o/Melemanu neighborhood boards this week, which in turn gave their blessings to the plan.

Within 60 days, the antenna is expected to be up at the park site, which is more than 500 feet from the nearest home.

Mililani Mauka resident Glenn Shigeta said residents living near the antenna are relieved.

"It looks like it is going to go ahead and move. I feel real good," said Shigeta, who helped lead the effort to get the antenna moved. "We will see in 60 days if all of this really takes place."

Residents have been working for almost a year to have AT&T's special-use permit application revoked and have the antenna moved, saying it was put up illegally because permits were improperly issued.

A conditional agreement was reached this month between residents and AT&T to move the antenna, but needed board approval and a 60-day deferral on its special-use permit application from the city Planning Commission. The commission agreed Wednesday to the deferral.

Lissa Guild, public relations manager for AT&T, said the company is happy with the arrangement and will order a new 77-foot pole from a Mainland vender within a few days. The pole should arrive in about six weeks.

"Now that we have everyone's apparent approval, we are starting to move forward," Guild said. "Obviously there is some time and expense and extra effort involved on our part, but where we all landed, we are very satisfied."

The city has agreed to give AT&T a long-term lease for the new site and to expedite building and conditional use permits to allow a quick completion of the move, Guild said.

Use of the new antenna will also be offered to two other cellular phone carriers to help limit the number of antennas in the area, Shigeta said. Shigeta said residents will now attempt to have the VoiceStream antenna moved, possibly to the new AT&T site.

"The community wants it moved," he said. "Their lease is coming up in two years, and now is a good opportunity for them to move."

Guild said she has contacted several other carriers to offer antenna space, but none has responded.

Guild said the new site meets the company's coverage needs in the area and there are no plans for additional antennas.

"It is a capacity issue. It has to do with customer demand," Guild said. "You never want to say never, so we are always revisiting the need for it, but there is nothing on the table right now."