HRCA committee denies cell sites that would increase mobile network speeds

Members cited concerns over location, appearance


The HRCA's Development Review Committee has denied an application to install 30 cell sites across Highlands Ranch for a 5G network, which Sprint says will offer internet speeds at 100 times faster than what is available today.

Zayo Fiber Solutions is working with Sprint to install 550 small cell sites across the Front Range to prepare for the next generation of mobile networks.

“This step up to 5G will be like the step up from black-and-white TV to color TV,” Sprint says on its website.

The proposal for Highlands Ranch called for 24-foot tall, thick, green poles along sidewalks in residential areas. Existing cell sites owned by wireless providers like Verizon are disguised as light poles and placed along major thoroughfares, including Quebec and Highlands Ranch Parkway.

“You really don't know unless you're searching for them,” Mike Bailey, HRCA's director of community improvement, said of the existing cell sites.

At a Nov. 7 meeting at Eastridge Recreation Center, the Development Review Committee (DRC) cited concerns about the appearance and location of the proposed cell sites, as well as outrage among residents over the potential health hazards of the sites' high radio frequency energy.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, exposure to electric and magnetic fields has the potential to cause carcinogenic, reproductive and neurological effects.

The seven-member DRC unanimously denied the application, encouraging Zayo Fiber Solutions to review its recommendations, meet with neighborhood delegates and residents, and work with HRCA staff to present a new plan in the future.

“The DRC acknowledges that this technology (5G) is coming and that work needs to be accomplished by both the community and the applicant to ensure its viability while minimizing the environmental impact of the equipment,” minutes from the Nov. 7 meeting say.

A spokeswoman for Sprint said the company plans to work with the community.
"Our goal is to improve wireless service and provide better connectivity for the residents of Douglas County and Highlands Ranch," Sprint spokeswoman Adrienne Norton said in an email correspondence. "We always strive to achieve a win/win process with local municipalities and residents, and we will be working with the community to address any concerns."

The project will ultimately need approval from the DRC, Highlands Ranch Metro District and Douglas County, according to Bailey.


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