After several months of fighting the location of a proposed cell tower, residents in the Wilder Park neighborhood in Green Bay may have lost the battle on Monday.
Equipment and fencing arrived on the N.E.W. Lutheran School property Monday morning as crews began preparations for construction of the tower. Neighbors tell Local 5 News that this was a surprise to them.
Residents have been fighting N.E.W. and SBA Communications–the builder of the tower–for months to keep the tower from being built so close to their homes.
Pete Lenss bought his house eight years ago. It’s across the street from Wilder School and Park, and N.E.W. is his next door neighbor.
“I bought the house because of the fact that it’s on a cul de sac. It’s quiet,” Lenss says. “They have been good neighbors. I have cookouts in my backyard. And now we get to look at a stupid cell tower. Yeah, it’s emotional.”
According to N.E.W. Lutheran’s executive director, SBA Communications came to them about building a cell tower for Verizon about a year ago. SBA signed a 50-year lease with the school, and the school sent out flyers to the neighborhood detailing the partnership last fall. N.E.W. says the flyers were sent out after the contract with SBA was signed. That meant the neighborhood had no say in the matter.
Still, neighbors say they wanted to be heard. And they tried to fight. Over the last few months Alderman Tom DeWane stepped in to foster some communication among SBA, N.E.W., and the neighborhood. But it didn’t happen. Soon the Green Bay City Council was involved, but because of a recent state law, the council wasn’t able to do anything more than go on the record opposing the placement of the tower.
The neighbors hired an attorney, but before he could even reach out to the school, work on the tower had begun. Of the several neighbors we talked with, no one knew the work on the tower would begin Monday.
“I understand where they’re coming from,” Lenss says. “But for them to not even be willing to sit down and talk with a concerned group of citizens and good neighbors–that’s the most frustrating part. And really quite honestly, I cannot understand that.”