Albemarle County Woman Rallies Support for Cell Tower in White Hall District
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Some people in parts of Albemarle County are finding themselves in a real disconnect. Now, one woman is taking matters into her own hands before a lack of cell service in the White Hall District becomes life-threatening.
Neighbors say this is a huge safety concern, and that there have been a number of scenarios where their 911 calls won't even connect.
On Monday, June 24, Phyllis Ripper went door-to-door along Browns Gap Turnpike to call on her neighbors to take this issue to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.
Many people who call the White Hall area are living in a dead zone. Out in this northern part of Albemarle County, phone service is slim to none unless you have Wi-Fi or a landline.
But when there's a power outage or you're out on the roads, neighbors say you're left in the dark.
“I think of late it has become a real safety issue, more than just an inconvenience,” Phyllis Ripper said.
Ripper wants that to change by bringing in a cell tower.
However, there's a county ordinance that says wireless service facilities cannot be placed on ridges or mountaintops.
“In this area, there are ridges everywhere,” Ripper said. “It's impossible to get any kind of elevation for a tower and not be on a ridge."
So, Ripper is asking for her neighbors’ help.
Patricia Wrightson and Jim Dobrouski say they have her back.
“Given what happened to us, we really feel that the safety issue is much more important than the aesthetics issue,” Wrightson said.
After not being able to call 911 during a car accident, she and Dobrouski feel it's needed.
“I was pretty badly injured, and so if there hadn't been somebody who could see it who had Wi-Fi in their home - we were lucky that we were even anywhere near someone's home," Wrightson said.
While some want the tower, others think it will be an eyesore, which is why Ripper says she has the ultimate solution.
"I'm going on the record saying we would be willing to consider putting a cell tower out here to serve this part of the county,” Ripper said.
"The county is actively working on increasing access to broadband in our rural areas through the work of the Albemarle Broadband Authority, or ABBA" Albemarle County Director, Communications & Public Engagement Emily Kilroy said in a statement to NBC29. "To report broadband access gaps, community members are asked to report their address through our interactive form at www.albemarle.org/broadband. To learn more and ask specific questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ripper says she's planning to take all the information she got going door-to-door on Monday to then create a petition for this cell tower to bring to supervisors.