Residents of Bear Valley Springs continue to sign petitions to halt any future activity bringing seven AT&T cell towers to the mountain community and Greater Tehachapi.
Many community members are concerned with aesthetics and possible health-related effects from radiation on animals and people. Additionally, some feel property values would fall if the cell towers are allowed in residential areas.
Volunteers of the Say No to Bear Valley Springs Cell Towers committee are inviting residents to sign a petition at various times of the week outside the community entrance.
“We would like to take as many signatures as possible to the Kern County Planning Commission if it comes up in the future, on how we feel. I’m sure there are a few people for it, but a majority would like it stopped," said Caroline Carpenter, a committee volunteer and Bear Valley Springs resident.
The committee has gathered close to 900 signatures, said Lori Frear, a Bear Valley Springs resident and committee volunteer.
The Bear Valley Springs Association hosted a town hall meeting on April 17 for residents to ask questions on the cell phone towers and request answers from a representative from AT&T.
Bob Tebbe, a Bear Valley Springs resident of six years, attended the meeting.
“It’s come way too fast and there are not enough answers to our questions," Tebbe said. "We still have to see what is factual and what is not.”
He added, “They are touting that the reasons are to expand cell phone service, internet service and what is called FirstNet (First Responder Network Authority) that first responders can use.”
Frear said, “We just moved here eight months ago and it's because of the natural beauty and the equestrian center. Cell towers are not beautiful. We are appalled at the (potential) placement of these unsightly towers in Bear Valley."
Animals that live in the valley could be impacted by the cell towers.
"We have a lot of endangered animals like the Red Fox, Condors and elk and we don't know how they will be impacted," Carpenter said. "What is this going to do to them?"
Cell tower placement in Bear Valley, Stallion Springs, Brite Valley and Cummings Valley has been an issue in the past couple of months.
The Kern County Planning Commission referred two AT&T conditional use permits for one 65-foot-tall and one 80-foot-tall monotone communication tower back to Kern County Planning & Natural Resources Department staff for further consideration at the May 23 commission meeting. AT&T Mobility by Jerry Ambrose; Eukon Group, submitted the two applications.
These towers, if approved, would be located are located at 17621 Ascot Court in Stallion Springs and at 22757 Creekside Court in Brite Valley.
Staff recommended that the concurrent cell phone towers in BVS need “a supplemental environmental impact report and specific and community plan EIR” to continue processing the request, according to documents from the Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Department Planning Commission May 23 Staff Report.
Representatives from AT&T and Ambrose could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Bear Valley Springs Association represents property owners in the community.
“We try to look out for all members,” said Wesley Shryock, the association's general manager, “The county has moved forward with some requests, in the past, even with a denial from us. As it sits rights right now, all submissions pertaining to the cell towers have been revoked."
Shryock added that BVSA helps determine whether any new public structure is aesthetically pleasing to the area, although they do not have control over Kern County building permits.
Some potential homeowners have even reconsidered their home purchase.
“Real estate has already been impacted by the proposals. I represent sellers across the street from a proposed tower site who had a potential offer until they learned of the cell tower proposal. They wrote my sellers a letter stating they will never buy a home near cell towers,” Kathy Carey of BVS Properties wrote on behalf of the Say No to BVS Cell Towers committee in a letter to Tehachapi News.
Residents do have access to internet from various providers, such as AT&T, Race Communications and others, said Tebbe.