Neighbors upset over new Verizon call center

By Jordan Sandler - bio | email

ELGIN, SC (WIS) - As Verizon Wireless looks forward to opening its new call center in Elgin by this fall, some neighbors are dreading the day.

It's not the sounds of construction that bother the residents of Woodcreek Farms Subdivision in Northeast Richland County. It's the call center itself.

"Had I known that the call center was gonna be built there, no I would not have moved here," said Joe Jacobs.

From his backyard, Jacobs looks out onto the construction site. He paid a pretty penny for his house to live in the brand new neighborhood.

Jacobs says the area is very secluded, but he's worried it may not be for long because of the call center.

Jacobs knew businesses would go up beyond his fence, but not a 24-hour call center, like the one Verizon is building for 1,500 employees.

"The entire back of this neighborhood will be lit up all night, seven days a week," said Jacobs.

"The concerns are valid and we're going to address them one at a time," said Richland County Councilmember Valerie Hutchinson.

Hutchinson met with county administrators Wednesday morning. She says the county will make three requests to Verizon.

First, the county will ask Verizon to plant tall, lush trees to block their lights from spilling into the neighborhood.

The second request is intended to cut down on the traffic. The front entrance to the call center is located right across from Pontiac Elementary School.  They're requesting that Verizon stagger their employees schedules so that nobody gets off work at the same time school gets out.

The third request is to block employee access to Woodcreek Ridge Road, a main street through the neighborhood.

"I've had some initial conversations and I think Verizon is interested in being a good corporate neighbor," said Hutchinson.

For Jacobs, it may still not be enough.

"It makes me feel like contacting Ivan -- I think that's his name -- the CEO of Verizon and see if this is something he'd be comfortable with in his backyard," said Jacobs.

Jacobs says after just 16 months of living in his house, he's considering moving.

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