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REVERSAL: COUNTY COUNCIL GIVES RADIO TOWERS THE GO AHEAD
February 03, 2009
(EVERETT, WA) -- A hearing examiner’s ruling, the third such ruling, to deny an Everett based radio broadcasting company the right to put a new broadcast tower array on Snohomish valley farmland has been over ruled by the Snohomish County Council. On January 27th the council cited a lack of substantial evidence to support the three earlier denials.
Radio towers in fog. CLICK TO ENLARGE
The examiners had concluded, along with earlier issues about compatibility with surrounding farmland, that the new towers, to be constructed by S-R Broadcasting Company Inc., which owns and operates KRKO-AM radio station in Everett, would be potentially harmful to the health of surrounding residents due to the amounts of electromagnetic radiation generated by the towers.
The longtime Everett based Skotdal family owns S-R Broadcasting Company Inc. and Skotdal Real Estate which is one of the largest landlords of downtown Everett property.
Councilmen Brian Sullivan, Dave Gossett and John Koster voted to overturn the examiners ruling and councilmen Mike Cooper and Dave Somers (who’s district includes the valley) voted against the reversal citing studies showing a higher risk of leukemia in children living near radio towers.
Hearing examiner Barbara Dykes spent some six months reviewing the documents in the long contested radio tower controversy after holding there days of hearings back in April. She released her decision in October.
Opponents of the towers have fought the proposal tooth and nail over the years on the grounds there is a public safety health risk to citizens due to the effects of long term, low level exposure to the electromagnetic radiation from the towers. They cite epidemiological studies showing higher rates of leukemia among some with exposure to the radiation from radio towers.
The council’s most recent decision hinged on a Korean medical study that focused on kids living within 2 kilometers of radio towers. The study did not convince Councilmen Sullivan, Gossett and Koster there was a credible threat to public health.
The group Citizens To Preserve The Upper Snohomish Valley, which has fought the tower issue says it will decide whether to appeal the matter to Superior Court once the written order is adopted by the council.
FCC GIVES BROADCASTER GO AHEAD TO INCREASE POWER
In June 2008 S-R Broadcasting Company Inc. received a long awaited construction permit for the towers from the Federal Communications Commission following approval for construction from Snohomish County the previous year.
After years of heated controversy, some forty public hearings in the past eight years and complaints to local agencies as well as the FCC, the four large radio towers were initially scheduled to start broadcasting KRKO radio’s AM’s signal last summer.
S-R Broadcasting has been preparing a 40-acre site for the towers south of Snohomish. Five of the towers are scheduled to be 199 feet tall with the sixth coming in at 349 feet.
The new towers will allow the currently lower power KRKO to be more competitive with Seattle area radio stations by increasing KRKO's broadcasting power from the current 5,000 watts to 34,000 watts during the day and to 50,000 watts of power at night.
The boost in power will allow the station for the first time to reach listeners all the way from Tacoma to Mount Vernon during the day.
The new tower arrays would also allow S-R Broadcasting to establish a new radio station at 1520 on the AM radio dial. The new 1520 air signal could reach all of Snohomish County during the day and some cities in the county during night time hours.
To date there is no conclusive scientific evidence demonstrating that AM tower generated electromagnetic energy causes cancer or other health problems in humans who live in the vicinity.