Mililani committee votes to keep controversial antenna plan alive

Edward Dawe
Edward Dawe
Shelly Nakasone
Shelly Nakasone
Will Kane
Will Kane

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

MILILANI MAUKA (HawaiiNewsNow) - An 80-foot antenna plan lives on. Opponents don't like the way it looks, but supporters say the Wi-Fi tower in Central Oahu is just what they need.

On Tuesday night, the Mililani Town Association (MTA) picked sides.

A MTA Committee voted to recommend the antenna to the MTA Board of Directors.

If they had voted against it, the plan would've died.

Critics question the motivation and are asking for a compromise.

The WiMAX Internet antenna, disguised as a tree, is the root of friction in Mililani Mauka.

Clearwire wants to build it right across from Mililani Ike Elementary.

"This is Rec Center VII that's behind us, and the antenna is going to be 80 feet above grade, so it's going to be 50 feet taller than the rec center," said Edward Dawe, a Mililani Mauka resident against the plan.

In 2006, Clearwire proposed a similar plan. It involved a 60-foot antenna on Mililani Ike Elementary's campus.

Residents fought it and won, after the school principal said no to the project.

Now, opponents are reiterating the same concerns they had four years ago, saying the antenna is an eyesore. Realtor Shelly Nakasone says property values will go down.

"Because the perception of desirability and beauty of the neighborhood will be destroyed by this obstruction," said Nakasone.

Opponents say they're not against the technology, just the location.

In June, the Mililani Mauka Neighborhood Board voted unanimously against the antenna, but the MTA has the final say because the land for the proposed antenna is in MTA's jurisdiction.

"We have proposed an alternative site to both Clearwire and MTA that the residents seem to support," said Dean Hazama, the Mililani Neighborhood Board Chair.

That site is a seven-acre Castle and Cooke lot, in front of the lychee farm in Mililani Mauka.

Another alternative that residents have suggested is Mililani Tech Park, where Verizon Wireless's tower stands.

But the MTA says Clearwire has told them those sites won't work.

"They wouldn't be able to reach the upper parts of Mauka," said Will Kane, MTA Board President.

The antenna is designed to bring service to upper Mauka residents, namely the Kapanoe subdivision.

Residents there say their signal is terrible.

"We don't get cell phone reception in our house. Everybody on my street has to stand out in the street to call on their cell phone," said Jennifer Zafrani, a Kapanoe resident.

Supporters say it's a public safety issue.

"The emergency services here in Hawaii want the antenna up so they can communicate with us in crisis situations," said Zafrani.

Clearwire says it would pay the MTA between $1500 to $2000 a month in rent. Critics say that's the motivation behind MTA's support for the antenna.

"They're supposed to work for us. We voiced our opinion and we said no," said Karen Howard, a Mililani Mauka resident.

"A revenue such as this is good but it's a small amount," said Kane.

The savings to Association members would only be a few cents a month.

Currently, MTA says homeowner association members save $11 a year via revenues generated from the eight existing towers in Mililani.

The MTA Board of Directors must now decide whether the savings from the latest antenna plan is worth it.

Right now, Clearwire is just proposing an internet tower.

If it's built, cell phone carriers can attach cellular antennas on it, though cCearwire has not yet announced if it plans to do that in the near future.

Tuesday night's vote in favor of the antenna was unanimous.

The plan now moves to the full MTA board for a final vote.

That's set for next Wednesday, the 18th.

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