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Cell edict moves ahead

Residents group opposed to T-Mobile tower still wants public hearings.

March 30, 2010|By Melanie Hicken

CITY HALL — The City Council next week will review the final draft of regulations for local cellular antennas — capping a lengthy process sparked by a controversial cell tower planned for a north Glendale neighborhood.

Officials have spent more than a year crafting the regulations. The City Council first introduced a moratorium on all cellular antenna applications in response to a T-Mobile proposal for the 500 block of Cumberland Road that prompted residents to organize an opposition campaign.

The proposed regulations — which greatly increase city oversight of the antenna’s placement — take a tiered approach in which cellular equipment proposed for residential areas or in an unattractive form would face a more intense review process. It would also require carriers to prove why they’re needed, and possibly face Planning Commission review.

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“We want to give both the community and the applicants some clear, reasonable and predictable criteria to assess and process the applications,” said Christina Sansone, general counsel for the city’s Public Works department.

If approved, Glendale would join cities across the nation in attempting to block the proliferation of the cell towers in residential neighborhoods, frustrating telecommunications companies that insist the equipment is needed to provide better service to their customers.

“We respond to citizen demand. That’s why we build these facilities,” Leslie Daegle, a Verizon Wireless representative, told the Planning Commission last month.

Since the commission unanimously voted to recommend the regulations to the City Council, officials have tweaked the regulations to include a provision that would make it harder for companies to place antennas in the public right-of-way near homes, much like the Cumberland Road application that first started the controversy.

“The public brought out a very valid concern that they would like to see a distance, if possible, between the wireless antenna and private property line, especially in residential zones,” Sansone said.

In a public-right-of-way application, cell providers would have to adhere to buffer requirements unless they can prove a “significant gap in coverage” that can’t be met through another location. Front so-called setbacks range from 15 to 25 feet in residential zones, while side setbacks range from 6 to 15 feet.

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