Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

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News: 08/15/2013

Phone tower runs into interference

AT&T’s plan to build a 61-foot microwave tower in the vineyards across from Adobe Canyon Road and Hwy. 12 have run into a big obstacle because of an open space easement on the property that prohibits commercial development. A Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) hearing of the project scheduled for Aug. 15 was requested to be continued by the applicant, AT&T, and the property owner, St. Francis Winery, according to county planner Blake Hillegas of the Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD).

Hillegas said that while researching the project for his staff report, he came upon the easement marked on a parcel map. The easement, said Hillegas, is “very restrictive,” limiting development to one single family home plus agriculture structures, and specifically prohibiting any commercial use of the property.

St. Francis sold development rights on the property to the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District in September of 1993 for a little over $886,000. The winery later moved its tasting room and administrative operations to Pythian Road, across from Oakmont, but retained ownership of most of the Kenwood vineyards behind its old tasting room, now occupied by St. Anne’s Crossing.

Hillegas said that the public notice for the BZA hearing on the project had already gone out when the open space easement was discovered. The fact that the hearing was officially noticed meant that the project’s representatives needed to ask for a continuance, which would need to be approved by the BZA at the Aug. 15 meeting. Hillegas said that in general, the BZA accepts a request for a continuance. The Aug. 15 BZA meeting occurred after press time.

The application to build a 61-foot “faux water tower” with 12 antennas and associated equipment cabinets prompted immediate protests in the form of unsigned flyers circulated with copies of the official county use permit application, UPE13-0013. Even so, few people turned up for a project review by the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission (see Kenwood Press article, June 1, 2013, and online), and the SVCAC voted 7-3 to recommend approval of the project with some suggestions to moderate its height and visual impact.

A call to AT&T’s representative was not returned by press time.


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