How many times have you enjoyed the sunsets, stars and northern lights from the North Douglas boat ramp or Outer Point? How many times have you gazed in awe from your living room window at Alaska’s magnificent natural beauty and exclaimed to your family, “Aren’t we lucky we live here?” Well, that appreciation may be about to come to an end if you don’t speak up for what you value. As it is now, greedy real estate developers, with no consideration of neighbors, and the powerful cell tower companies are calling the shots.
I have been blessed to live in the natural beauty of Juneau for the last 33 years. Our family built our home on north Douglas Island long before pavement, water or electricity extended to our rustic cove, just a stone’s throw from the North Douglas boat ramp. Diverse families have chosen this neighborhood, not because of amenities or for financial investment, but because of the scenic viewscape that is in harmony with our family and neighborhood values — with unique Juneau values.
Unfortunately, without adequate notice from CBJ, and without deference to Juneau’s Comprehensive Plan, the North Douglas scenic viewscape corridor has already been grievously wounded — like a sharp stick in the eye — by the infamous, strobing Spuhn Island cell tower. This could happen to your neighborhood and to your family too. Sixty-seven towers are already listed in CBJ’s inventory, most are out of public view or not lighted. But, fifty plus more — for starters — are in the pipeline. Without informed oversight and a strong ordinance that reflects your values, the next tower may take out your favorite view or pop up across the street from your home with an obnoxious strobe invading your bedroom 24/7. I’m not exaggerating. My neighbors and I live there.
Last Thursday evening, the Juneau public had its first opportunity to discuss and provide input to the Draft Wireless Telecommunications Master Plan and Ordinance. Our planning department laid out 10 generic issues they want to incorporate into the plan and ordinance. Many other hot-topics were raised by participants: set backs from schools, protection of migrating birds, air traffic hazard, and more effective methods of public notice, to name just a few. Hopefully those additional topics will be available for the public to weigh in on at the next meeting to be held at 6 p.m., this Thursday the 27th, at UAS Glacier View Room 221, inside the Egan Library.
Before then, look around to relish the views that make Juneau uniquely different than every other city in the lower 48 — the reason our town attracts a million jaw-dropping visitors every year. Check out the plan and ordinance at http://www.juneau.org/cddftp/projects/WirelessPlan/ or Google “cell phone tower proliferation.” If you treasure the magnificent views your family should enjoy for decades to come, then join the discussion; protect what you value, protect Juneau. It’s your call.
• Gene Randall lives in Douglas.