Our Voice: Cell phone towers part of country's new landscape

It is never easy when a neighborhood changes.

So it is understandable residents off Clodfelter Road in Benton County are dismayed one of their neighbors has agreed to lease part of their land to AT&T for a cellphone tower.

However, the reality is cellular communication has become a crucial part of most people's lives, and devices such as cellphones cannot operate without a proper signal. These towers provide a necessary function, and while some people may not like their location, the majority appreciate the service they provide.

A decision has not been made yet by the county, but it appears Denny and Sally Haffner have done everything right and followed all the laws and regulations for the lease agreement with AT&T.

They have lived on their property south of Badger Canyon for decades and were there before the area was built up with homes. They have taken good care of their acreage, growing trees and creating a park-like setting for their home.

When they were approached by AT&T, they weighed many factors before deciding to pursue the lease agreement. They considered what the tower would do to the aesthetics of the area and the effect it would have on wildlife. They also researched potential health risks cell towers might pose, and were satisfied by reports from the American Cancer Society that said there is little evidence they cause cancer.

After much thought, they decided to go ahead with the proposal, requesting the tower be placed at the most inconspicuous spot on their property.

Even so, the neighbors are worried about property values and other data they have found potentially linking cellphone towers to health problems.

If everyone tried to keep a cellphone tower out of their neighborhood, there would be no cellphone service at all. There are cell towers and antennas throughout the Tri-Cities, including populated areas of Pasco, Kennewick and Richland. They are not something set up only on the outskirts of town. They are everywhere.

The American Cancer Society reports that the energy level from cellphone towers is relatively low, "especially when compared with the types of radiation that are known to increase cancer risk, such as gamma rays, X-rays, and ultraviolet (UV) light."

Nobody likes the idea of an urban structure in a rural setting, but like utility poles, they are necessary for today's world. If people want cellphone service, they will have to accept the towers used to provide it.