The Walnut City Council tonight will hear appeals related to three cell tower projects the Planning Commission green lighted last month.
Resident Terri Johnson, a vocal opponent of a planned Verizon cell phone tower project in Creekside Park, filed the appeals. Johnson has cited health concerns, the effect on property values, and the need for a cell tower ban in her arguments against the Creekside tower. Along with the Creekside project, Johnson filed appeals in response to planned upgrades to cell phone antennas in Snow Creek and Walnut Ranch parks.
She also has called for fall zones for safety should the towers topple.
“The city should not be putting cell phone towers where people live,” she said. “There should be a 120-foot fall zone.”
The Walnut Planning Commission voted 4-0 Oct. 3 to approve Verizon’s request to build a cell phone tower in the park. Commissioner Wen Pei was absent.
Commissioner Tom Sykes said before voting that the commission had done its due diligence in reviewing the project and regulations regarding cell phone towers.
“I don’t believe that I can find justification to deny based on I believe the applicant met all of the criteria to get an approval,” he said. “I don’t write the rules and I am not happy with some of the regulations, but that’s what I have to rule within.”
The approval comes 16 months after the telecommunications company first brought the proposal before the commission. Delays in recent months were related to the city’s request that Verizon hire a third-party consultant to make sure the cell phone carrier really needed the tower to improve coverage.
The findings of the report, drafted by MobileNet Services, Inc., supported Verizon contention that the Creekside Park location would provide improved reception, compared to two other nearby locations.
“It’s clear that the most significant improvement to the…coverage in the “poor coverage region” would occur if a site is placed at the Verizon Wireless proposed location,” consultants wrote in the report. “The other sites could aid coverage, but not as well as the park site because they are “heavily surrounded by terrain (hills) as compared to Location #1.”
In separate actions last month, the commission also approved the cell tower upgrades in Snow Creek and Walnut Ranch parks.
The Walnut City Council meets at 7 p.m. tonight at City Hall.