Supervisors need to take another look at proposed cell tower in Boston

Greetings to my Culpeper County Neighbors,

My name is Lucie and I am the 5th Generation Lucie of Elmwood Farm, which many of you know is directly across 522 from the Old Boston Store. My great-great-grandmother Lucie Eastham married William Browning in 1871 and then passed along Elmwood to my great-grandmother Lucie Browning, who married JEB Stuart Leavell of Melville in 1896 and propagated the rest of us.

I am writing to you to express my concerns about the 255 foot cell phone tower proposed behind the Boston Store, just across Scenic Byway 522 from Elmwood Farm, which is a registered National Historic Landmark. Since this intended project was announced only three short weeks ago, I have had the opportunity to meet many of you for the first time. It has been fun to hear the many speculative stories about who the Elmwood Farm Family is. To clarify, we are 14 owners in total, four from the 4th generation and 10 from the 5th, with the 6th generation well on its way to maturity. We have one common goal, which is the preservation of our collective heritage here in Culpeper County.

Let me set one thing straight before we go forward: we are 100 percent in favor of our neighbors finally receiving cell and internet coverage, and for all of the critical and non-critical needs that come along with that being met.

However, we are dismayed and deeply concerned about the manner in which Culpeper County has rushed this project forward. Furthermore, the county has failed to look at all of the options available to get our neighbors coverage. A member of the [Culpeper] County Planning Commission, it is believed, circulated a petition asking our neighbors simply if the citizens of Boston want cell phone coverage or not, which of course most of us do. The county conducted a hearing on Oct. 12 and gave the public only a 16-day notice of this hearing. Why the rush? And now they are set to fast track the vote by Nov. 1, while they have barely let the public know anything about all of the issues of this project and they have failed to comply with county, state and federal law in a list too long to explain in this letter.

My family made a decision 20 years ago after a fire at our Old Home Place to not pursue only personal profit and an easeful future, but to collectively shed blood, sweat and tears to preserve our heritage. We chose not to sell Elmwood to developers, forsaking tremendous personal profit and instead chose the path of historical preservation so that our and all of our children would have the chance to remember from where we have all come.

There are options available to the county to meet the critical needs of our neighbors, but sadly this debate has turned into an either/or discussion: either we get cell coverage or we don’t. I urge the [Culpeper] County Board of Supervisors (BOS) to consider all of the options available, and to not limit the scope of inquiry for our neighbors, who don’t have endless hours of free time to research and understand county, state and federal Law and thus rely on the BOS to make an honest and complete representation of the facts. This 255 foot tower will line the pockets of developers who seek to use historic Boston to provide coverage for a much larger area than only Culpeper County. This 255 foot tower violates many laws but here are the ones that are the most concerning:

– choosing a site only 401 feet from the nearest residence, Mrs. Groene of Boston VA, whose home will now be in danger of being crushed if more mega storms keep coming up the East Coast, because her home is not the 510 feet away legally required to not be crushed by a falling tower. Furthermore, they have not gotten the approval of Mrs. Groene to waive her legal right to not have a cellphone tower fall on her home.

– choosing a site that is only 1500 feet from Scenic Byway 522, despite the law requiring such a tower to be at least 1 mile from the nearest Scenic Byway

– failure to document the investigation and explanation of why the Boston carriers could not be placed on any of the 34 existing and available tower structures, as shown in the county’s inventory

-failure to use designated towers areas already engineered by the county to provide Boston with coverage while also mitigating negative impact.

I urge the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors to change course and start to follow the law, instead of the whimsical frenzied rush this project has turned into. Please vote NO on Nov. 1 and demand that the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors fully inform the public of all of the options, so that we can collectively make the very best choice, not only to preserve our past, but to serve our future.

Lucie James Vogel

Elmwood Farm