Balloon soars, will towers follow?

Frazier: A balloon 199-feet in the air gives no comparison to scale of a tower with antenna array

Cell tower developer Community Wireless Structures (CWS) arguably would have its hands full with one Rappahannock resident in particular if and when it files wireless facility permit applications for two 199-foot lattice towers proposed on the north and south ends of Woodville along Sperryville Pike.

The Arlington company’s southernmost cell tower, it turns out, would stare at the front door of one of the county’s most outspoken critics of microwave emitting communication structures.

“It’s a quarter mile or less as the crow flies,” estimates Cynthia Price of Windy Hill Farm, where she and her mother have separate homes. “I’m going to fight them.”

Cynthia Price of Windy Hill Farm, midway between Woodville and Scrabble, would stare directly from her front door at the southernmost of two proposed 199-foot cell towers. “I’m going to fight them,” she says. By John McCaslin

“We talk about the beauty in this county, and protecting the health of the citizens,” notes Price, who spoke to this newspaper last Saturday shortly after CWS hoisted a red balloon into the sky to assess the height and location of a second proposed lattice tower further north on Eldon Farms property.

Since initial balloon flights at both sites last month, CWS — the same company that erected the large monopole this spring in Sperryville — has chosen a “revised location” for the northernmost tower, about midway between Woodville and Sperryville.

“In an effort to minimize the visual impact, the location of the proposed structure has been shifted approximately 760 feet to the southwest of its original location, set back an additional 750 feet from Route 522,” CWS explained.

Residents this past Saturday were able to view the balloon between 9 a.m. and noon, albeit only from a fair distance. CWS described the simulation as an opportunity for the community to make a visual assessment of the proposed tower and provide input and feedback.

The proposed height and location, just over the hill, of the northernmost cell tower — seen here with an enhanced red dot from the Eldon Farms driveway, about midway between Woodville and Sperryville. By John McCaslin

CWS had said earlier that once Saturday’s flight was completed it planned to file applications with the Rappahannock County government to construct both lattice towers, which if built would be the first of their kind in Rappahannock.

Apart from the Sperryville monopole, those cell towers currently in place in the county are either single poles, barn silos, or a fake tree. The Rappahannock County Telecommunications Ordinance requires “proposed facilities shall be as compatible as possible with . . . the setting, color, topography, materials and architecture.”

Jackson District Supervisor Ron Frazier told this newspaper Tuesday that the BOS “has not taken any stance on the ballon test sites, because we have no applications to review. Our telecommunications ordinance governs the type of facility that may be applied for, and for now we are basically in a holding pattern, though again, that is not an ‘official’ position . . .

“As to stealth towers, we have a pine tree along 522 between Massie’s Corner and Flint Hill and the three silos (211 and 522). I believe you sacrifice height for stealth, in that I don’t think there are 199-foot fake pines or silos. My personal position is to wait and see what they (CWS) propose.”

Otherwise, Frazier said: “I did not go to see the balloon test; a 4-foot diameter balloon 199-feet in the air gives no comparison to scale of a tower with antenna array.”

Price has personally been in contact with the BOS since the pair of towers were proposed, supplying the board with information that supports her contention that dangerous levels of radiofrequency (RF) waves are emitted from such structures.

“I have tried so hard to educate the board,” she says.

The American Cancer Society says no evidence exists in reliable scientific journals that cell phone towers cause serious health problems. Others, including Illinois-based SafeSpace Protection, argue that humans today not surprisingly are exposed to 100 million times more electromagnetic radiation than their grandparents, and warn that microwave emitting towers interfere with the body’s own electromagnetic fields, causing everything from headaches and memory loss to birth defects and cancer.

“We have mountains that have always been around us and they are protective and beautiful and the last thing we need is this thing over there that is poisonous,” says Price, looking across Sperryville Pike to the proposed tower site.

Like Frazier, Piedmont District Supervisor Christine Smith told this newspaper that for now she would have no official comment on the proposed towers since “there are currently no applications pending before the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors.”

About John McCaslin 469 Articles
John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at


  1. Tourists, the lifeblood for some businesses, are still having issues with their phones, Google maps,etc.
    I know some people who won’t visit the county for extended periods because they’re worried that they’ll miss an important call from the office…so strike tourists, business professionals, who else feels discouraged?

  2. As a resident of Rappahannock County I would like to thank CWS for investing in our county. The proposed locations for the towers will not be noticeable and as the American Cancer Society has stated pose no heath threat whatsoever. It is a no brainer to fast track the approval process for these towers. Thank You CWS!

  3. “and protecting the health of the citizen”

    But how about the health of citizens, visitors, and passers-by, when there is sickness or an accident, someone needs to call 911, and there is no connectivity? How is staying home so as to not see a balloon test at the height they are recommending? Its wonderful to have nice scenery around you, but its even better to be able to call for help with accidents, sickness, fires, lost people, etc. Yes, it would be nicer, for you, for the antenna towers to be elsewhere: if you are talking about scenery, and if you never have to call for help. Otherwise, wouldn’t it be wonderful to know help was just a 911 call away? We happen to have a tower directly in front of the house, but miles away, and we can still see it, because its up on the tallest hill around. Height is the reason telephone work, out in the hinterland. It is called line-of-sight, and is necessary for contact between cellphones, and the rest of the network into the world of telephones, when people do not have a wired phone.

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