Parents and Rock Hill school district officials talked about concerns and benefits of a proposed cell tower near Mount Gallant Elementary School during recent community meetings.
During the Oct. 9 Rock Hill school board meeting, Comporium proposed building a cell tower near Mount Gallant Elementary School.
The 190-foot tower would sit in a 100-by-100 foot area on the northeast corner of Mount Gallant and Museum roads, near Mount Gallant Elementary School’s parking lot, said Matthew Dosch, Comporiums’s chief operating officer. The company proposed leasing a quarter of an acre from the Rock Hill school district. Comporium officials said the school district also will benefit from improved cell service.
Comporium has a cell tower in the Twin Lakes Road area of Rock Hill, another near the York County Airport and a third in the Hands Mill Highway area of Rock Hill, Dosch said. Mount Gallant and Museums of York County are too far from those towers and reception is weak, Dosch said.
“We have a hole in our reception, and the weakest possible reception in that area,” he said.
Comporium said other sites were considered, but were rejected because of not having the land or the right layout needed for the tower.
Mount Gallant faculty, district administrators, school board members and members of the Mount Gallant parent and teacher organization also attended an Oct. 17 meeting at the school.
An Oct. 24 meeting at Dutchman Creek Middle School, which also sits near the site, had no attendees, said Tony Cox, deputy superintendent for the Rock Hill schools. More than 3,000 invitations were sent out for that meeting.
Questions raised during the meetings included student safety, the effect the tower would have on traffic and if other sites were considered, according to the minutes.
Comporium officials also addressed concerns about radiation from the tower. The World Health Organization states current research shows people absorb more radiation from radio and television signals than they do from base stations such as cell towers.
Comporium officials said the tower is designed to fall into itself should it ever fall, rather than falling over like a tree. The tower would be 330 feet away from the school.
Comporium officials said utility service traffic would be minimal and would not interfere with the day-to-day activities at the school.
Elizabeth Morgan, a Mount Gallant parent who lives near the school, said many of her questions were answered during the meeting.
“(Comporium was) open and willing to answer our questions,” she said.
However, Morgan said concerns remain, such as its proximity to the bus parking lot, which Mount Gallant students sometimes use as a playground. Morgan said the school’s parent and teacher organization is raising money to replace playground equipment and fix drainage problems that leave the playground muddy after rain.
Cox said the district has been working on improving Mount Gallant’s playground area as part of its capital project plan. The district is replacing outdated equipment and installing a new, raised service to address the drainage problem. The project is scheduled to be finished in Spring 2018. Mount Gallant also has an artificial turf field.
“We are investing quite a bit into the playground areas around that particular school,” Cox said.
Cox said the district feels that most concerns were addressed.
“It appears this is a feasible project going forward,” he said.
Comporium needs school board approval before moving forward, as well as approval from the city of Rock Hill, Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Communications Commission to install the tower.
Carriers that would use the tower, which have not yet been determined, would have to meet federal guidelines, Dosch said.
If approved, construction would begin in summer 2018.
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4282