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Greenwood residents voice opposition to Verizon 5G poles

Posted at 11:44 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 18:31:21-04

GREENWOOD — Verizon Wireless wants to install dozens of 5G poles throughout Greenwood neighborhoods, and residents are fighting back.

Fair Oaks resident Shane Pemberton is one of the dozens of people who showed up to the Johnson County Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Tuesday night.

“It's the big company coming in to squash the little guy,” said Pemberton. “It just feels like these companies are coming in and forcing these antennas onto your property, and it's going to lower the value of your property.”

The crowd at the meeting filled the room and spilled out to the foyer. There were residents of nine subdivisions in Greenwood where Verizon hopes to install its 5G towers. They came to show their disapproval.

“I know that I don't want one across the street from my house, basically,” said Pebble Creek resident Holly Mika.

The neighborhoods would be:

  • Fair Oaks
  • Fairview Heights
  • Innisbrooke
  • Pebble Run
  • Southwind Estates
  • Windsong
  • Wood Creek Estates
  • Woodcreek Terrace
  • Woodridge Estate

]All of the neighborhoods are in northwest Johnson County and White River Township; they are not within the City of Greenwood limits.

According to documents Verizon filed with the county, each pole will be 43-47 feet tall. County representatives say there aren’t many options for fighting the installation.

“If there is already above-ground utilities, and they meet other criteria such as set back from other structures in the road, they are automatically approved,” said Board Chairman Chris Campbell.

According to an Indiana state law passed in 2017, wireless service providers don’t need local approval to put in service towers. But there are exceptions to the law. Therefore, Verizon does need approval for 28 of the poles it wants to put in Greenwood. Those poles are intended for areas only zoned for underground utilities.

“We live in a buried-utility only neighborhood, and many people, that's why they buy the houses — because there aren't poles and stuff on it,” said Mika.

Residents have other concerns, as well.

“My son gets on and off a bus right near this tower. I don't know what's going to happen in the morning, someone comes in late to work and hits the pole and it falls,” says Pemberton.

Verizon, through its lawyer, Russell Brown, says the poles are necessary to be able to provide the service. The infrastructure has been precisely planned out and is nearly impossible to change while also delivering the best service.

“The question we get very often is: 'Can't it just be moved over there?' And the short answer is, generally, no,” he said.

But residents say it’s a service they don’t want or need. After they voiced concerns, the board voted to deny the first pole — an action greeted with cheers from the crowd. But many say this is only the beginning of the fight.

“It's all about money for those guys, and it is what it is, and this is just one company, and there are a lot of others that are going to come in with the same agenda, and if you don't start now, it's just going to get worse and worse,” said Pemberton.

Complaints or concerns should be directed to Johnson County planning and zoning.

WRTV anchor/reporter Lauren Casey contributed to this report.