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South side Indianapolis blast survivors oppose 5G cell project

Posted at 12:31 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 12:31:09-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A neighborhood recovering from a massive explosion on the south side of Indianapolis is the latest to voice opposition to a 5G project. Verizon says it is placing a small cell on a pole that will bring a new street light to the subdivision at no cost to taxpayers.

It’s been eight years since the Richmond Hill blast killed two homeowners, Dion and Jennifer Longworth.

A sunflower grows on the site of the Longworth’s home, which remains a vacant lot.

Two properties down, Vicky Koerner is concerned with the proposed placement of the 5G technology next door to her home. Koerner will never forget the November night in 2012 when her neighbors ran for their lives. Koerner decided to stay in Richmond Hill. She built a new home on a lot where the blast destroyed her last house.

Koerner also believes the 5G cell will be an eyesore, especially in a neighborhood with no utility poles.

“Not next door, take it to Sherman. Take it to the golf course. Take it to the field. But don't put it there. Okay?" Koerner said.

She's not alone in questioning Verizon’s plan.

“We're not against technology, but its where it's going to be located as you know, you've been with us covering our story for the past eight years; this is a lot that still needs a house, not a 5G tower," said longtime resident Doug Aldridge.

In the past, Doug has been known affectionately as the Mayor of Richmond Hill. For several years, he mowed the lawns at the homes near the epicenter of the explosion.

“We just don't need to add an eyesore to the neighborhood," said Aldridge

In November, the survivors of Richmond Hill will, in their own way, mark that moment.

Healing takes time, especially for homeowners who value what rises in their neighborhood.

People in Richmond Hill are on social media passing around a petition to present to the Marion County Board of Zoning Appeals next Tuesday, October 6.

Another 14 sites on the south side of Indianapolis in Perry Township are targeted for the deployment of 5G technology.

Verizon sent WRTV a statement, saying:

We are in the process of finalizing approvals for a small cell on a pole that would also bring a new street light to the community without taxpayer cost. We will follow all applicable regulations and processes to ensure that it is installed safely. All equipment used on our network is approved by the FCC.