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The oldest neighborhood in Donelson is Historic Bluefields. The development of the Bluefields subdivision began in 1929 by the Bransford Realty Company of Nashville, Tennessee. Home construction began in the early 1930s, with fifty to sixty homes built by the Bransford Realty Company by the end of 1938. The final phase of building, Bluefield Square, was developed in the 1970's on the property once occupied by the Swiss Farm Dairy within Bluefields proper.
Today over 250 families live in Historic Bluefields with many Donelson neighborhoods surrounding Bluefields. Bluefield Avenue runs parellel with the Nashville & Eastern Railway line and we have been neighbors for close to 100 years.
What We Know
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In March 2014 Bluefield residents at the Donelson Pike end of Bluefield's avenue noticed surveyors and workers behind their properties and upon inquiry were informed a communications tower was being installed. Upon request Councilman Phil Claiborne hosted an information meeting with Railway line representatives that introduced the 120 foot cell tower which is proposed to be erected within feet of Bluefields properties.
Here's what we know now:
- The cell tower is being presented as the railway's solution to a federal mandate created for Class 1 Railway Lines known as PTC (Positive Train Control). Nashville & Eastern Railway Line is a Class 3 Railway Line. Here is the NERC PTC Implementation Plan (PTCIP) that was developed in 2010. Using existing infastructure was recommended in meeting PTC standard in this document with no mention of a 120 foot cell tower or communications tower in the 256 page document.
- The cell tower is proposed to be 120 feet high, with a base of 30 * 50 feet with 8 foot barbed wire fence surrounding it – being proposed to be built within feet of Blufields residents' properties. Trees that provide critical sound and visual barriers for residents from the railway line may be removed as part of this installation.
- The cell tower is proposed on federally owned railway land that is directly connected to residents' private properties (on the Bluefield Avenue side of the railway line).
- AT&T appears to be heavily involved in this project, with management and engineering companies from Florida and Washington DC leading the project.
- Coincidently AT&T appears to have several local lawsuits within Davidson County and Wilson County in relation to proposed cell towers and their proximity to neighborhoods and schools. These lawsuits are being tried with local courts. With the tower being proposed on Railway "Federal" land local laws are being by-passed. The proposed cell tower would not pass local metro codes most critically failing setback guidelines. In a tornado or strong wind storm this structure could fall towards private property which could be catestrophic.
- This project appears to have been in planning stage for up to 6-12 months without any notification and impact consideration to our historic neighborhood. Federal laws protect historic neighborhoods and there is a major backlog of PTC compliance as a result of historic neighborhood impact studies.
- Environmental studies being performed have also raised our awareness of potential hazardous materials (old fuel and railway ties and equipment buried in this railway land over the last 100 years.) Disturbing this area may release contaminants that could harm immediate neighbors. 14 children live and play daily within feet of this proposed area. A very popular senior center is within several hundred feet of the proposed tower as well which is concerning.
- We estimate a potential drop in Historic Bluefields property value of approximately 1.5 to 2.5 million dollars on preliminary research. This will directly impact and decrease property tax collection to Metro Government. The size and height of tower within feet of private residents is expected to significantly reduce property values with an expected 20 to 30 houses at minimum having clear visibility in the winter months at minimum. The property value reduction will have a ripple effect throughout the entire 250 household neighborhood.
- Surrounding Business/Future Developement may loose millions in future investment around Donelson Station (and specifically the Donelson Pike end). Future growth around Donelson Station as a rapid transit station is expected to attract the development that includes uptown restaurants, retail and exclusive apartments and condominiums. No developer is going to develop 3 story condos that overlook at 120 Foot Cell tower with a base that will resembles a jail or nuclear zone. If right of way is used to bowl over local law (local neighbors, local business and local development) then developers will take a tremendous risk building multi use neighborhoods around railway stations and any land along the current Nashville - Eastern Railway Line.
Could a 120 foot cell tower become a new neighbor to the Hamilton Springs that was recently awarded $1.6 million grant for commuter rail station Hamilton Springs, Middle Tennessee’s first transit-oriented development, that will soon have a Music City Star rail station at its center? According to railway right of way you BET IT COULD!
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With the preliminary information we been given we have some specific questions we would like answered:
- Why was an Impact study for our historic neighborhood not performed first? We believe there are 2 federal laws that may require the Nashville Eastern Railway Line to have performed this first – an FCC requirement references this with PTC compliancy and the Federal National Historic Preservation Act also would require this.
- Why weren’t any residents along Bluefield Avenue communicated with in any capacity about this proposed cell tower? Workers could not have performed their intial surveys without being on and disturbing residents' properties.
- What are the actual PTC requirements and antenna specs and is this tower's primary purpose to serve and improve railway communications?
- Is AT&T assisting in funding this project and if so, what is their specific usage of the tower? We note that NES is also listed on the tower rendering so it appears this tower may be serving many groups besides the railway line operators.
- What other locations have been identified for this tower? (in particular, industrial non-residential areas along the line that would not impact neighborhoods)
- Can you share the first environmental study that you have performed with us? (as this should be public record according to EPA website)
- What Federal Law allows Railway Right Of Way to jeopardize citizens safety and health? The Cell Tower is proposed within 2 feet of private property and the Cell Tower does not meet Nashville Metro Setback codes. In a tornado this tower could fall on residental property (and the occupants).