Town citizen anti-5G ‘to protect the people;’ Hale said BOMA can’t act

The topic of 5G continues to be raised before the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen, particularly during the Citizen’s Forum portion of its meetings.

Farragut resident Mike Mitchell, who in recent months has expressed opposition to the 5G implementation currently being rolled out, submitted a statement, along with a “cease and desist 5G resolution,” to BOMA last week, requesting it be read into the minutes of the Citizens Forum portion of the regular April 23 BOMA meeting.

He further asked the resolution be placed on “the next BOMA meeting agenda for discussion and vote.”

Mitchell said his intent was “to protect the people of Farragut,” in asking the Board to consider the resolution, in which he wanted the Town to officially “call upon all telecommunications companies and public utilities operating in Farragut, Tennessee, to cease the build-out of so-called ‘5G’ wireless infrastructure until such technologies have been proven safe to human health and the environment through independent research and testing.”

It was discussed but not read into the minutes. Town attorney Tom Hale — who has repeatedly advised both BOMA and the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission that the Telecommunications Act of 1996, along with state law, governs the issue and prohibits Town regulation based on “potential health threats” — addressed it after Mitchell’s comments were read.

Hale said he reviewed the resolution “in some detail. My main comment has to do with the credibility of any resolution that we were to do as a group. The way this resolution is written, it implies you as a body know the answer to scientific questions about potential harm from RF radiation, which is clearly in disagreement or dispute among experts who work in this area.

“I think there is some merit in taking a position that is based upon undisputed facts, but one of the undisputed facts is there is a conflict among experts.,” he added. “There are experts on both sides of this issue. There is no dispute that local governments do not have the authority under the law to regulate on the basis of health effects of RF. We don’t have legal authority to do it.

“To come out to say what this resolution does … is just not appropriate. We don’t know which side is right.”

Unsatisfied, Mitchell then sent an e-mail blast over the weekend to state and local officials, along with area media outlets, continuing to request its publication. He also asked it be posted on the Town website.

Farragut Mayor Ron Williams addressed Mitchell’s comments Sunday, April 25. “He wanted us to read the resolution, but what’s in it is false and can’t be included,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who he is quoting. It is so much his opinion, and not proven fact.

“He can ask that we do a resolution, but he can’t be the author of it,” the mayor added.

While Mitchell and others continue to cite potential health issues as reasons to stop 5G’s current rollout being undertaken by Verizon and its subcontractors, Williams pointed out the Federal Communications Commission’s most recent study, the 1996 Telecommunications Act, does not support their arguments.

“What they (residents) are asking us to do, we can‘t do,” Williams said. “The 1996 Telecommunications Act is the Holy Grail and we have to go by that.”

Williams also disputed Mitchell’s comments that he personally is violating the Town Charter and his oath of office by following “the bad law in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.”

“With my hand on the Bible I swore I would uphold all the laws of the great State of Tennessee and the Constitution of the United States,” Williams responded in a Saturday, April 25, e-mail. “I think that is crystal clear and I will continue to do so.

“It does not say anywhere in our Charter that it is the job of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to budget finances in order to wage a war on the State of Tennessee to try to abolish a state law, particularly when it is backed by a federal law,” he added.  

“The Board of Mayor and Aldermen were elected to serve the Town of Farragut to the best of their ability and to govern by law and not by emotion. Your Tennessee state legislators passed the law, and they are the only ones who have the power to change or amend it, not the Town of Farragut. All we can do is address the few items that we have control with our ordinance, which we have under way now.”

The Town has been working with officials from AT&T and Verizon on an aesthetic plan to regulate the anticipated 4G and 5G cell towers, 11 of which were approved with conditions by the FMPC in January. Verizon had not responded to FMPC’s conditions at press deadline.

“If they want to talk about co-location, and aesthetics, that is the best we are going to be able to do,” Williams said.

“I also think they need to focus on what can be done at the state level,” he added. “Right now, they are pointing at the wrong people. They need to go after the senators and state officials to get some changes made to the law.

“Mike Mitchell is in the wrong lane, and he needs to focus on where he can do some good.”