Group hopes to topple county tower proposal

INDIANOLA — Community members concerned about a proposed 300-foot guyed communications tower to be constructed in Indianola have organized themselves in a way so their opinions can be heard more clearly.

The group, North Kitsap Responsible Environmental Controls for All People (NK-RECAP), formed after the Suquamish Tribe and Kitsap County Central Communications entered an inter-local agreement last December to build a wireless communications tower.

While the tribe plans to build the structure as part of its developing wireless education program, CenCom needs more emergency communication coverage in the area. As a result, the two agreed to partner up.

Both parties are sharing construction costs and have plans to lease out space on the tower to other groups and businesses that use wireless technology.

The proposed location of the structure is within a 90-acre parcel of tribal land near Indianola Road and South Kingston Road.

NK-RECAP include residents in both Kingston and Indianola who share the common goal of protecting the local environment for both humans and wildlife, said NK-RECAP chair Linda Cazin.

“There is a strong feeling in the community that our voice is not heard,” Cazin said. “When the tower decision was made, there was no public process that was meaningful.”

She said there very little public notification about the project prior to the Dec. 16, 2002 decision.

There were only two instances in which the topic was made public: There was an agenda item regarding an inter-local agreement with the Suquamish Tribe for a tower during the Kitsap County Commissioners’ Dec. 16 regular meeting; and a letter was sent out to residents that would be affected by the tower just a few days prior to the meeting, Cazin said.

Cazin said residents became aware of the contract right after it was decided and were frustrated.

“There was just no way to voice our opinion or influence the decision,” she explained.

NK-RECAP officially formed following the July 8 meeting of the Kitsap County CenCom Policy Board meeting in Bremerton.

The group’s main concerns are that CenCom isn’t following county codes concerning the structure’s height and environmental review.

Zoning codes limit the height of telecommunications towers in the county to 200 feet with no lights. If taller, the towers are required by the Federal Communications Commission to have white or red strobe lighting.

“We feel that anyone (that) puts a tower that high in the middle of the neighborhood is going to be environmentally damaging to both humans and wildlife,” she said.

Tribal officials said at the July 8 meeting that a tower at least 300-feet high will be built regardless of whether or not the county partners with them. Even so, Cazin said it is CenCom’s participation that has NK-RECAP members frustrated. Cazin said the county will be receiving a lengthy document this week outlining issues NK-RECAP feels warrant further review and encouraging the commissioners to reconsider their decision. Issues raised include lack of proper public notification, appropriate environmental reviews and whether the county agency is following code.

Cazin said while the group’s membership consists of about 30 people, 235 community members from the area signed a NK-RECAP petition recently, asking the commissioners to reconsider the inter-local agreement with the tribe.

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