By Amy Wenk
amywenk@reporternewspapers.net

Outraged Sandy Springers think they may have a case against a proposed cell tower.

“We’ve been good detectives,” said Jamie Kleber, one of nearly 300 residents who oppose Verizon Wireless’ proposal to build a 115-foot cell tower on Dupree Drive. “We’ve been asking questions since Day One.”

Kleber and a handful of others brought a 30-page presentation to the Sandy Springs Planning Commission June 17. From the podium came pictures of poorly maintained cell towers, pleas from the preacher of a Primitive Baptist church and confusion about Verizon’s need for cell phone coverage.

The commission recommended denial of the cell tower application. Members did not agree with Verizon building a cell tower in the historic, residential area off Mount Vernon Highway.

“They haven’t convinced me that this is urgent,” commission member Al Pond said. “I’m not sure they have exhausted all their options.”

Verizon attorney David Kirk disagreed. He said there were no other options in the area. “We have done everything we reasonably can.”

Verizon introduced the proposal to the community in late April, but has searched for a tower site in the area for years. After asking other property holders, such as Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church and School, Verizon decided to try leasing land from the city of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, which owns a water tank and land on Dupree Drive.

“This facility is needed,” Kirk said, because “the quality of service is spotty and not reliable in this area.”

The Sandy Springs City Council will take a final vote July 13 on the cell tower proposal. The council can ignore the Planning Commission’s recommendation to deny the application.

“We hope they will make the right decision,” Kleber said.

In the meantime, neighbors said they will continue to build their case against Verizon. “We are going further,” Kleber said. “We are not stopping.”

Even the city’s historians are getting involved. “There are a lot of historic resources in the area,” Kimberly Brigance with Heritage Sandy Springs said, noting Union Gen. William T. Sherman slept there before the Battle of Atlanta and one of the first public schools once was nearby. “Ever since the threat of the cell tower, I’ve been trying to put together a Crossroads group.”