The debate over whether cell phone tower equipment should be kept away from Baltimore city children moved to the City Council last night, with the introduction of an ordinance that would ban placement of the devices “on property that is owned or controlled by the City of Baltimore and is used for the recreation, care, or education of children.”
The bill, introduced by Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke and five co-sponsors, defines the banned equipment as: “a device, the surface of which is used to transmit or receive radio frequency signals, microwave signals or other signals transmitted to or from other antennas.”
The issue was raised by citizen activist Kim Trueheart at a city school board meeting last July, leading to the disclosure in The Brew that the city has 21 lease agreements with companies permitting devices on or near 14 city schools.
A spokeswoman said school authorities do not consider the devices, which bring in more than half a million dollars of annual revenue, a health concern.
Objections have been raised to cell towers by parents and at school districts across the country, and some have succeeded in getting approval of legislated restrictions.
Under the provisions of the ordinance proposed last night (Bill 12-0170), leases to add the devices could not be “awarded, renewed or extended” if the permit “the placement of a wireless telecommunications antenna on any parkland, school or other property that is owned or controlled by the mayor and City Council of Baltimore and used in whole or in part for the recreation, care or education of children.”
The legislation is being reviewed by city schools, the City Solicitor’s Office, Department of Recreation and Parks and others, and will likely be scheduled for a public hearing in January.