HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - T-Mobile wants to erect a 65-foot tall cell tower on the Diamond Head property the Arc in Hawaii leases from the state. The tower would be disguised to look like a palm tree.
"Behind us we have trees that are almost as tall, if not taller. I think it will blend into the landscape really nicely," executive director Lei Fountain said.
The non-profit would collect rent from T-Mobile. Fountain said the cash would help cover the increasing cost of working with disabled adults.
"We struggle on a day-to-day basis," she said. "We get most of our funding from Medicaid. That's a fact. And we haven't had an increase in 10 years."
Many Diamond Head residents oppose the cell tower idea. Clark Hatch heads the East Diamond Head Association. He said the 65-foot structure exceeds the area's height limits.
"Most of the height limits here are only 15 feet. A few of them are 25 feet," he said. "That stands up way above anything else."
The Arc would need a height variance, and its facing a new expense. Its water and sewer bill have been covered under an old arrangement with its neighbor, the Hawaii Defense Department. That's ending.
"It could be up to $5,000. That's the reality. That's what I'm looking at a month," Fountain said.
Hatch said he understands the Arc's financial needs but he believes putting a commercial cell tower on the property violates its lease agreement.
"The Arc has a lease with the Department of Land and Natural Resources in which it says they can only conduct the school and activities for the students there," he said.
"I'm hoping that they are progressive enough to know that we are making the best use of the land that they have allowed us to be on for our mission," Fountain said.
She said the Arc is negotiating with T-Mobile for how much renting space for a cell tower would cost the carrier. The plan would need DLNR approval.