Sunset Hills Residents Upset Over Possible New Radio Tower

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SUNSET HILLS, MO (KPLR) - A proposed tower in Sunset Hills set to be part of a county-wide emergency radios system is on hold for at least a month.  The city’s board of Aldermen voted to table approval for the new tower in the wake of complaints from residents over how their property value would be affected.  

It was three years ago when county voters approved the new radio system, which will allow police, firefighters, and other rescuers to communicate with one another all over the county. Right now many municipal departments can’t communicate via radio.  

“This is what the largest urban areas have today,” David “Duff” Barney from St. Louis County Emergency Management said before the board.  “This is what worked so well at the pentagon.  This is what worked so well during the Washington sniper incident, because various law enforcement fire and other public safety agencies could talk to one another on one radio system.”

No one was questioning the need, but they were questioning the site.

The county was ready to start work on the location at the health departments building on Lindbergh near Gravois.  Nearby residents had plenty of complaints.  

“The biggest concern is the decrease in our property value,” Cathy Ely, a neighbor said.  “Research has shown a property value near a tall cell tower goes down 10-40% and property values have gone down anyway.  Everyone realizes that.”

Barney said part of the draw of the health department location is the fact the county owns the property.  Another site, the Fox 2 tower near Lindbergh High School, was problematic because it was too loaded down, and also because of the price to lease the space.  

Aldermen asked the county to put the proposed site on hold and examine other options, including space on the city hall property in Sunset Hills.  Barney says they have some room to maneuver, but not much, because the 25 radio sites have to be able to work together.

“We have some flexibility in where we put our sites but we can’t move them but so much because if we move  a proposed tower location too far in one direction we effect the coverage from the adjacent towers.  So that could have an impact on other locations that may have already been locked down.”

Aldermen will take up the topic again next month.

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