Kenwood Press

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News: 09/15/2011

Suit filed over cell tower

Neighbors of a county-approved Verizon cell tower off of Sonoma Highway have gone to court to stop the construction of the 83-foot tall facility.

In June, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a use permit application for the tower at 6735 Sonoma Highway, on the property of Novavine, across from Oakmont.

At that meeting, neighbors of the project objected to the location, arguing that there were less intrusive sites, that the faux-tree tower would have negative visual impacts, and that it would reduce property values.

A number of people, many from Oakmont across the highway, spoke in support of the cell facility, which Verizon says is aimed at addressing a six-mile dead zone for cell phone coverage on Sonoma Highway between Kenwood and Melita Rd.

Neighbors Dean Bordigioni, owner of Annadel Estate Winery, and Irene Castellani filed a lawsuit Sept. 7 in Sonoma County Superior Court seeking to stop the building of the tower at the Novavine location.

In the suit, it’s claimed that the Board of Supervisors, “abused its discretion, as the findings were not supported by substantial evidence in the light of the whole record…”

Specifically, the suit charges that other site alternatives were not adequately pursued, and that the Board of Supervisors did not make the proper findings in regard to the tower’s effects on the environment, particularly the visual impacts.

Bordigioni and Castellani are asking for a writ of mandate from the court to order the Board of Supervisors to deny Verizon’s use permit, and are also asking for a stay of the tower’s construction until there can be a hearing on the writ.

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