Cell phone tower debate in Missouri wine country - KMOV.com

Cell phone tower debate in Missouri wine country

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

(KMOV) -- Would you want a cell phone tower right in your backyard? Some St. Charles County neighbors are gearing up for that fight in a battle with the feds.

AT&T wants to put a new tower Defiance off Highway F, but the county council voted it down.

News 4's Maggie Crane explains why tax payers may be the real losers in this fight.

The St. Charles County Council is fully aware that by saying no to building a cell phone tower in wine country opens it up to a federal lawsuit, and that means using your tax dollars to fight what looks like a losing battle. Since the Federal Communications Act of 1996 passed, it's become nearly impossible to stop the progress.

Defiance is the heart of Wine Country and arguably houses more wildlife than people.

"You don't want to ruin it with a bunch of cell towers," Councilman Joe Brazil said. "That's just a bad decision."

It's been a hotly-contested issue at the St. Charles County Council. After years of planning, a proposal to place a cell phone tower in Difiance has lost its signal. The vote was 3-2 against the tower, but two members who had indicated they're approval for the project were absent.

"Do you think that was fair or should you have waited for the full council to be present?" Reporter Maggie Crane asked.

"It was brought off the table, and that's just the way it is," Brazil said. "I didn't want it, and you do what you have to do to stop it. And it stopped."

Brazil lives in Difiance and admits that he likely would have lost had the other councilmen been present.

We found that everyone is not on the same wavelength as Brazil.

"I think it gets down to being a safety issue," John Lyons said.

The tower would be disguised as a tree in the woods in front of Lyons' home.

"They did a balloon test 130 feet in the air, and it was in the woods, so in the summer we would not see it at all and very little this time of the year," Lyons said.

In full disclosure, John would receive money for allowing the tower to be built on his land, but he says it's about progress.

"My daughter was down here with AT&T and she didn't have service," Lyons said.

The councilman says he's never heard his constituents complain about cell service and that protecting the landscape is more important.

"As long as it's not in the wine district in the landscaping in the views, that's fine," Brazil said.

Eric Martin is the attorney representing St. Charles Tower, the group constructing the tower. Martin tells News 4 he is weighing his options. He has not been notified yet about the official vote.

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