Springfield residents have launched a petition in a desperate last attempt to stop the installation of a three-storey cellphone tower in their residential area.
The residents are still gathering signatures to an online and physical petition to stop its installation.
But the council said the installation was a permitted activity in the area which didn't need consultation and Spark said it was needed to fill a "digital hole" Springfield sat in.
Petition co-ordinator Nilamani Wright's concerns centred around effects on health and property values. She estimates they have about 1000 signatures.
She referred to a Ministry for the Environment publication which said scientific studies had been unable to demonstrate conclusively any adverse health effects but the public remained uncertain.
"Effects on property values can occur, but these are manifestations of these other effects, not additional to them," the publication stated.
Wright has sent a request to Spark, which is installing the tower, and the district council, requesting a public forum before any work is done.
"It's never too late ... We're all standing up now.
"It's not just about Springfield, it's about Rotorua, it's about every neighbourhood. It's happening across the road but we need to look after each other in the community."
In response to health concerns, Spark's corporate relations partner Cassie Arauzo said Spark cell sites fully conformed with national and international safety guidelines.
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She said most scientific opinion was that there was no clear evidence cell sites presented risks to human health.
Arauzo said the tower had been granted a certificate of compliance in December and would need to be built in accordance with legal requirements under the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities.
This allows network operators like Spark to install telecommunication equipment without resource consent provided specific standards are met.
Arauzo said Spark had notified "a number of neighbours about the build" in January and March and provided information, site and land plan designs and an invitation to contact Spark for clarification or to raise concerns.
"The Springfield area has seen an unprecedented increase in data usage over the past three years."
Arauzo said Springfield sat in a "digital hole" with the six existing cell sites in the wider region reaching coverage and capacity levels.
"As more users demand services, the existing sites won't cope and users will start to experience issues like dropped calls, loss of connectivity to services and coverage issues.
"As the demand increases on the existing cell sites, Spark needs to invest in new infill sites, usually located between existing cell sites, to boost coverage and capacity."
Arauzo said new cell towers usually cost hundreds of thousands of dollars so decisions were not made lightly.
"We need to do it to ensure our customers keep receiving the quality of service they rightfully expect."
Arauzo said Spark equipment designs considered research on residential property values, which hadn't established a relationship between cell towers and house prices.
Rotorua Lakes Council's operations group manager Henry Weston confirmed the council received and granted a Certificate of Compliance application for the tower.
The site is located in a Commercial 3 (Neighbourhood Centre) zone, Weston said.
"Installing a freestanding telecommunication facility up to the height of 20m is a permitted activity in this zone under the District Plan and the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities and therefore does not require consultation.
"If the site was in a residential zone, the proposal would likely require resource consent as a discretionary activity and need to be assessed against the relevant criteria."
Raj Kumar, who owns the dairy at Springfield and is also a district councillor, said he had been approached by residents about the issue but was keeping neutral on the matter.
"It all went through the landlord. It's his property so at the end of the day it's his decision.
"People want better services and better connections but nobody wants it in their backyard.
"Just because I'm a councillor doesn't mean I can go into every battle … My knowledge was not enough to get on to the band wagon to say we don't want it."
Kumar said he was remaining impartial in the interests of his business.
Guidough's Bakery owner Mel Bachmann said she had previously received a letter saying the tower would be installed and wasn't happy but wasn't hopeful something would be done.
"We do not understand why it's being built near a school in a dense living area.
"We're here six days a week under the tower, my daughter goes to school across the road I think surely there's better place."
Nearby resident Harvey Mandena was also backing the petition to stop the tower installation believing it would cause health issues and devalue homes.
"If Spark can come back and say it's not going to create issues, not going to devalue your property and you're not going to have any health issues that's a different story.
"That tower operates 24 hours a day we can switch cell phone off but not the tower."
Spark could not confirm when the installation would take place but an area behind the shops has been fenced off.