The installation of cell phone transmission towers in residential neighborhoods has turned into recurrent NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) issue in the Chapala area.
The latest controversy has a unique twist. It involves a utility pole artfully camouflaged to resemble a giant pine tree.
Crafty appearances aside, residents of the area near the corner of Avenida Gonzalez Gallo and Lopez Cotilla are up in arms, fearful that unregulated emission of electromagnetic waves pose a health hazards for their families and toddlers attending a nearby kindergarten. An additional concern is the possibility the tower might collapse and fall on their homes, since the land in question sits on an unstable geological fault.
The neighbors say they have been fighting the project for many months and eventually got city hall authorities to shut it down last September. But apparently the company contracted to do the work obtained a building permit shortly after the change of government.
In relation to a similar case regarding the installation of a rooftop antenna installed on Calle Morelos, the urban planning department obtained a finding from the State Commission for Protection Against Health Risks (Cofepris) indicating that there is insufficient scientific evidence proving that cell tower emissions are harmful to humans.
Government staffers have tried to placate the “pine tree” opponents with several temporary shut-down orders. Work resumed March 4 and now officials say their hands are tied because a definitive ban would be motive for a lawsuit. The only help they offer is legal guidance in taking the the case to higher authorities.