New hurdle for radio towers near Snohomish

SNOHOMISH — A grass-roots group that has fought growth plans at Harvey Field is joining forces with those who want to stop six radio towers from going up in the Snohomish River Valley.

Leaders of Stewards of the Land and Community agree with opponents saying that the AM radio towers could threaten the health of people nearby.

“This is a slam-dunk issue,” said Rick Reed, who leads the Stewards of the Land and Community. “Nobody wants to have these towers in the Snohomish River Valley.”

The project will proceed as it is planned, said Andy Skotdal. The Skotdal family owns KRKO 1380 AM and a proposed new frequency at 1520 AM. The two radio stations hope to share the six towers just south of Snohomish.

“There is absolutely no data that supports the contention that there will be health problems in this project,” Skotdal said.

Angela Day, who lives in the valley and opposes the proposed towers, found a study in 2007 that electromagnetic energy from AM radio towers increases the likelihood of leukemia in people nearby, especially children. The study appeared in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

In December, Snohomish County deputy hearing examiner Ed Good decided that two of the six towers won’t get a permit from Snohomish County until any potential health risks cited in the study are examined.

The county already approved the four other towers, which now need federal construction permits. Five towers are expected to be 199 feet tall, and the other 349 feet tall.

“This is an emotional issue for our families,” Snohomish City Councilwoman Melody Clemans said at a meeting Thursday.

The informal meeting, hosted by City Councilwoman Karen Guzak, drew about a dozen opponents. They discussed how to get ready for an April 1 hearing on the project.

“We have an opportunity to get our act together and stop this endeavor,” Guzak said.

Opponents are using the study to scare people, Skotdal said, adding that he is convinced that the project meets rigorous federal rules on health issues.

“This one study doesn’t change anything,” Skotdal said. “It is a weak study.”

Some area residents have fought the project for several years. They often focused on their concerns that the towers would ruin the valley’s aesthetics and lower their property values, said Bob Day, husband of Angela Day.

Now they’re shifting their focus to health concerns, Bob Day said.

“It affects everybody,” he said.

Stewards of the Land and Community aims to preserve the quality of life in the valley, Reed said. He suggested distributing brochures against the radio towers to gain community support — just as the group has done for the Harvey Field issue.

“It seems to me that there’s plenty ammunition to defeat this,” Reed said.

There have been about 40 hearings for the radio towers, Skotdal said. Proponents have addressed all the concerns raised by residents and plan to continue to do so.

“This project has been over-processed,” he said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or

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