By Focus Staff
The February 20 Farragut Municipal Planning Commission started off with Farragut Mayor Ron Williams making a motion to move the Citizens Forum from the beginning of the meeting to the end of the meeting. This brought an immediate protest from Saddle Ridge resident Jeff Kendall who went to the podium to speak to the mayor and planning commission about the change of the meeting agenda. Mr. Kendall told the mayor and planning commission the posted agenda had Citizens Forum listed as the first agenda item. Mayor Williams responded that aldermen and planning commission members had signed up for continuing education credits for this meeting that needed to be completed before votes that evening on sign ordinances and the Farragut Comprehensive Land Use Plan and he did not want for them have to wait for many citizens to speak in Citizens Forum about 5G small cell antennas.
The two person WVLT film crew also seemed surprised. They had come to report on the Citizens Forum as many residents were there to speak on the Verizon 5G small cell antenna application from the prior planning commission meeting.
Mayor Williams was overheard asking other planning commission members about the WVLT film crew, “What are they doing here?”
After asking how long the meeting would last the WVLT film crew left. The WVLT crew was doing the second part of an interview that had been done earlier in the Farragut subdivision of Sweetbriar on the 5G issue.
The televised meeting on Spectrum cable TV channel 193 did not start on time and the mayor’s motion to move Citizens Forum to the end of the meeting was not aired. The televised proceedings began abruptly with the fourth agenda discussion item on a draft of the update to the Farragut Sign Ordinance.
After two and a half hours of discussion and debate on the agenda items, Citizens Forum began.
The first speaker was Jerry Guthrie of Village Green. For his allotted time of five minutes Mr. Guthrie spoke about the public health risks of the Verizon 5G small cell antennas. He explained these antennas would be in people’s front yards and they would be too close to homes where they would broadcast pulsed cellular radiation 24 hours a day at a frequency of 30 GHz (gigahertz) to 300 GHz with a millimeter bandwidth. Mr. Guthrie explained every two or three houses would have these antennas.
The next speaker was Laura Squires of the Woodland Trace subdivision who took exception to a comment from Mayor Williams to her saying, “You people have been here enough.”
Squires told the mayor and planning commission she had been to Farragut Town meetings exactly twice including this evening and she should not be challenged that she and others had “talked enough” about the 5G issue. Squires requested that the planning commission notify Farragut residents within three days of any Verizon 5G small cell antenna applications with a town sign in their yard. Squires said this is something you can do and does not involve either federal or state law. Squires also requested the Farragut Planning Commission and Mayor and Board of Aldermen give language to state Senator Richard Briggs and state Rep. Jason Zachary that the state law be amended to property transfers to disclose the right of way may have one or multiple 5G small cell antennas in it.
Kate Juatez spoke next and said the Telecommunications Act of 1996 needed to be changed. This act states no cell tower can be prohibited based on health concerns. Juatez explained there has been no medical study of the safety of cell phones and towers by the Federal Communications Commission in 24 years. Not since the second generation of cell phones that operated at much lower frequency.
Dava Shoffner was the last speaker. Shoffner said the town had a legal right and duty to protect its citizens. Shoffner said a lot of residents had come to speak this evening and it was not right to move the Citizens Forum to the end of the meeting. She said all of the planning commission has to stay until the end of the meeting no matter what. She also said only four people signed up for the training session and two of them were planning commission members so the postponing of Citizens Forum was only for two people.
Mayor Williams responded that if 50 or 60 people would have spoken it would have delayed the training. Shoffner did not buy that explanation, asking, “In other words you’re saying you did not let us speak because we would have taken too long—is what you’re saying, Mayor?”