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Enterkin, District 5 Challenger, Has Cell Tower, Billboard Interests (UPDATE 1)
(APN) ATLANTA -- Christian Enterkin, one of the three candidates currently challenging Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong (District 5) in next Tuesday’s Municipal Elections, has a professional interest in the placement and leasing of cell phone towers and billboards, two issues of importance to Atlantans.
Archibong is the most progressive Member of the Council, according to the APN City Councilmember Scorecard.
Cellphone towers have been an issue of importance to District 5 especially, where community members organized to oppose the placement of new towers. Councilwoman Archibong introduced 11-O-0533 in 2012 to place limits on new cell phone towers within certain parts of the District. The legislation passed in July 2013.
Meanwhile, as for billboards, the Georgia Legislature passed HB 179 in 2011, which allows billboard owners to cut down trees within five hundred feet of a billboard.
This legislation is already having an impact in Atlanta’s Buckhead community, where Councilmembers and neighborhood groups will be stymied in their efforts to implement pedestrian-friendly zoning schemes such as SPI 9 and SPI 12.
Enterkin, a little-known recent entry to the race, who has been attacking Archibong, works as Vice President of Landmark Dividend, a company that financially benefits from billboards and cellphone towers.
Landmark makes lump sum payments to landowners who have long-term leases for cell phone towers and billboards, but then acquires the lease payments.
According to her LinkedIn page, Enterkin has served as VP since 2012.
Her job description is: “Oversee a diverse portfolio of real estate acquisitions including wireless, wind turbine, solar, and billboard advertising. Detail includes contract negotiations, due diligence, purchase facilitation, market research, portfolio analysis, and long term financial goals. Basically, from identifying potential assets to closing deals...that's what I enjoy doing everyday!”
Archibong told APN there were two proposed new cell towers in Atlanta’s East Atlanta Village neighborhood that were the impetus for the legislation.
“The [first] proposed cell tower was situated directly next to a residential parcel… the neighbors wanted to make sure the cell tower provider could demonstrate that location was the only location where their service gap could be closed,” Archibong said.
Archibong said she went to the Department of Planning and found that the applicant had checked a box saying the tower was needed, and that the Department accepted it as fact because it lacked the technical capacity to independently verify the claim.
“We went so far as to hire a radiofrequency engineer ourselves, and to find a location where they could co-locate in the Village,” Archibong said.
“They didn’t want the radio-magnetic fields. One neighbor had just recovered from cancer, there was an infant death across the street,” she said.
”The second time it happened again we wound up going to court and winning. The landowner wanted the lease proceeds, rather than having a demonstrated service need for the tower,” she said.
“The legislation that was eventually passed effectively said here are the areas where if you come in this core area, you’ve got to have a radiofrequency engineer justify that there is a need. The fact that there’s an economic incentive to the landowner - that’s irrelevant to the conversation,” she said.
Enterkin did not respond to a list of questions emailed nearly a week ago, on Monday, October 21, 2013. The questions that Enterkin refuses to answer are as follows:
(1) Will you continue to work full-time at Landmark if elected to Council?
(2) Either way, will you recuse yourself from any votes dealing with cell phone towers or billboards?
(3) Do you agree with the cell phone tower limitations set forth in 11-O-0533? Why or why not?
(4) Do you appreciate community concerns about cell phone towers in general? If so, which concerns do you agree with, which ones do you not agree with?
(5) Do you support the statewide legislation prohibiting trees within 500 feet of billboards? Relatedly, would you support a resolution by the Council urging the Legislature to modify or repeal the legislation? If modify, in what ways?
Enterkin received a one thousand dollar campaign contribution from Landmark Dividend.
Enterkin also received significant contributions from airport concessionaires [Archibong did not vote in favor of the recent airport concessions contracts]. Enterkin received 2,500 dollars from Carol Hojejj and 2,400 dollars from Wassim Hojejj of Hojejj Branded Foods.
At least nearly half of the money Enterkin has raised has come from special corporate interests, such as airport vendors, and cell phone and billboard interests.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Enterkin received a 250 dollar contribution from a company owned by Dan Halpern, an airport concessionaire. However, the contribution was actually from a company owned by Jack Halpern, no relation, who is in the real estate business.
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