Despite opposition from a few neighbors, the Independence Planning Commission Tuesday approved a special use permit request that allows T Mobile to plant a cell phone tower at a church.

Despite opposition from a few neighbors, the Independence Planning Commission Tuesday approved a special use permit request that allows T Mobile to plant a cell phone tower at a church.

The 75-foot tower will be built on the grounds of St. Michael's Episcopal Church at 4000 S. Lee's Summit Road. The wireless communications tower should help T Mobile, one of the biggest wireless carriers in the nation, improve deficiencies in coverage within the area.

The tower is a monocross design that nearly resembles a cross, a design that should blend in with the church property, according to city planners.

T Mobile and St. Michael's have entered into a lease agreement so the tower can be constructed and maintained by the mobile carrier. Money from the lease deal will pour added revenue into several charitable programs the church runs, including an anti-hunger program that feeds the poor and another that gives personal care items to needy, according a church spokesman who spoke out favorably for the project.

But several neighbors view the tower as a potential health hazard and a nuisances.

Patricia Baer, who lives on the 16000 block of east 40th Street near the church, told the Planning Commission she does not want to look straight out from her back porch and be staring at a large tower.

“I'm not the only one who is opposed to this,” Baer said. “There is a lot of opposition to this.” Baer said neighbors are going to pursue litigation against having the tower built.

Gayle Rodriguez, who lives on the 16000 block of east 41st Street, said past development at the church has has created severe drainage problems that has resulted in damage to her property. She also has researched alleged health problems of people who have lived near cell towers. Rodriguez handed out documents she printed off the Internet that correlates brain tumors and other health problems people have supposedly suffered from low levels of radiation she says flow from towers.

“How does the community benefit from this,” she asked.

City planners said in documents that the economic impact on the community will only be to the church and T Mobile customers who will benefit from improved cell phone coverage.

Trevor Wood, a spokesman for Selective Site Consultants, a company that T Mobile hired to draft engineering services for the project, said several trusted health organizations, one being the American Cancer Society, has concluded that there is no link between cell towers and health-related problems.

Wood said the company will work with Rodriguez to minimize and reduce any drainage issues in the area. He said his company took great consideration when choosing a location that minimizes neighbors' veiwpoints of the tower from their properties.

City planners recommended the Planning Commission approve the special use permit that allows for the tower to be constructed along with a small equipment shed right next to the tower.

Planners said in city documents the monocross will be enclosed by an 8-foot vinyl fence and existing mature trees around of the perimeter of the neighbors’ properties should reduce the impact of the tower.

The commission placed stipulations on the special use permit. They said that if T Mobile wants to increase the height of the tower, they must come back to the commission and get it approved.