(Times-Herald (Vallejo, CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 06--The Vallejo City Council on Tuesday will consider approving a proposed cell tower at a north Vallejo shopping center that was delayed last year due to neighborhood concerns about aesthetics and radio waves.
The delay has resulted in a revised project design as well as a lawsuit against the city by project proponent AT&T Mobility. The civil complaint alleges the city broke federal regulations mandating the speed at which telecommunication projects must be processed.
The city denies the allegation and the lawsuit is pending.
The issue concerns a proposed cell tower at the Rancho Square Shopping Plaza at 5201 Sonoma Blvd. AT&T Mobility proposed the project in December 2012 to boost its wireless coverage in that area.
The original design called for an 80-foot monopole enclosed with a chain-link fence. The revised proposal, however, reduces the height to 70 feet and consists of a faux "eucalyptus tree" design.
Also, the proposed tower site has been moved to the rear of the plaza, near Rinaldo and Danrose drives. According to the city, the revised plan calls for landscaping to provide screening of the tower's equipment cabinet for residents living behind the shopping center.
Despite these changes, some residents and store owners still think the tower would be an eyesore. Others have complained about possible exposure to radio waves, although city officials and AT&T Mobility have dismissed those concerns as unfounded.
"I think they should move it away from residential," said Lucy Marte, one of the owners of the Japan Store at the plaza. "They should consider alternative sites" including the shopping center's marquee sign on Sonoma Boulevard.
The current proposed site, however, was selected to reduce the tower's visual impact from Sonoma, according to the city.
Last month, city officials say a public notice with a summary of the revised project was sent out to property owners within 200 feet of the proposed tower site. City officials said no comments were received as of last week.
Marte, however, said many tenants may be unaware of the project. She added she learned of the upcoming council hearing from a conversation with the plaza's owner.
The city's planning division denied the original project application in April 2013. According to the city, officials based the denial on the significant visual impact the facility would impose on neighboring homes and businesses and a failure to provide adequate information about alternative sites.
AT&T Mobility appealed to the planning commission, which upheld the denial but asked the city to work with the telecommunication company on a revised submittal that would meet the needs of the public and the applicant.
Meanwhile, AT&T Mobility served the city with a civil lawsuit in June 2013, alleging violations of Federal Communications Commission rules requiring local governments to act on cell-tower applications within 150 days. The lawsuit further alleges the city is impermissibly preventing AT&T Mobility from providing wireless service, which would be a violation of federal law.
The city has denied all of the lawsuit's allegations.
Tuesday's council session starts at 7 p.m. at 555 Santa Clara St.
Contact staff writer Tony Burchyns at firstname.lastname@example.org or (707) 553-6831. Follow him on Twitter @tonyburchyns.
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