What began as a small neighborhood group opposed to a proposed telecommunications tower has become the Piney Run Neighborhood Action Committee with a position statement, a legal fund, a petition drive and a letter-writing campaign.
"Carroll County could take the lead in fighting against these towers," said Cathleen Heisch, committee organizer for about 25 tower opponents who met at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Sykesville last night.
The 200-foot-high mobile phone tower, which Bell Atlantic and Cellular One would use, is proposed for private property on Hollenberry Road, about 1,200 feet outside Sykesville's town limits.
West Shore Communications Inc. of Odenton wants to lease a half-acre from William J. and Phyllis Shand, of 7001 Hollenberry Road, for $550 a month.
The company would build the tower and a 12-foot-by-28-foot equipment building on the conservation-zoned land.
The lease would not be valid unless the county Board of Zoning Appeals approved a conditional variance.
A public hearing on the proposal, scheduled for Dec. 29, has been postponed to late January.
In less than three weeks, since Ken Nerin learned of the first zoning hearing and stuffed fliers into his Beachmont Drive neighbors' mailboxes, the committee has organized to battle county and state officials.
"I am giving the commissioners fair warning: If this tower is built, I will do everything to see they are not re-elected," Mr. Nerin said last night.
John Heisch, another resident, told the group, "We want everyone to become a self-empowered center of information.
"If you are not angry about this, you don't know enough."
Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown said that cellular phone companies are "gridding this county" and planning 24 similar towers. He urged the group to connect with other neighborhood organizations in one voice of opposition.
The Carroll County commissioners denied Mr. Brown's request for a one-year construction moratorium on the towers to allow time to study potential health hazards, impact on property values and communications alternatives.
"They have already told me 'no,' but I am only one voice," Mr. Brown said. "All of you should write letters of opposition."
The committee plans a door-to-door campaign and another meeting from Jan. 8.