SNOHOMISH — Opponents of building two new AM radio towers in the Snohomish Valley have filed an appeal in court, but the radio station that wants to build them still expects to start construction this summer.
The legal appeal claims that the Snohomish County Council did not follow proper procedure last month when it decided to let S-R Broadcasting Inc., parent company of KRKO (1380 AM), build the 199-foot towers. The council overturned a hearing examiner’s decision to deny a permit for the towers, based on claims that radio signals are dangerous to human health. A majority of the council thought the hearing examiner’s decision was based on shaky scientific evidence.
“It’s clear that what the council has done is what they shouldn’t have done,” said Lee Bennett Jr., president of Citizens to Preserve the Upper Snohomish River Valley, one of the plaintiffs in the appeal.
The new towers would be built near three others that already stand to the south of Old Snohomish Road, along with a fourth 349-foot antenna.
Appeals and litigation over the towers have been going on for more than a decade. S-R Broadcasting wants the new antennae so it can transmit a new station on 1520 AM. Despite the latest setback, the family-owned station anticipates starting construction this summer and going on air by year’s end, said the station’s president and general manager, Andy Skotdal.
“The County Council made the correct decision on human health,” he said.
Skotdal called the appeal “frivolous” and said the other faction had already exhausted the correct channels for dealing with the issue.
The citizens group is one of three plaintiffs who filed the appeal last week in King County Superior Court. The others are Mark Craven, a farmer, and Rick Reed, who can see the existing radio towers from his house on 131st Avenue SE and whose son attends a nearby elementary school.
Tower opponents have cited a range of studies claiming that AM radio waves have negative effects on people and wildlife — among them, increased rates of childhood leukemia and destruction of trumpeter swan habitat.
People who live near the towers also have complained increasingly of radio signals coming over home phone and intercom lines since KRKO upped its broadcasting power last month.
Skotdal said he had resolved 10 complaints as of last week and was addressing five more. In most cases, the fix involves placing a filtering device in the house.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, email@example.com.