Kenwood cell tower gets nod from SVCAC
No one from Kenwood showed up to support or protest a proposed new cellphone tower at 8057 Sonoma Hwy. when the subject came before the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission (SVCAC) on June 25. The project was approved with a single holdout, North Valley representative Rochelle Campana. The Commission did qualify their endorsement to ask that any sharing agreements place new equipment inside the tower and not hang antennas on the outside. Sonoma County requires cell towers to share with others to keep the proliferations low.
As currently designed, the 60-foot faux water tower will include 12 interior antennas and associated equipment cabinets on a 2.05-acre parcel. While it has a Sonoma Hwy. address, the parcel sits well back from the road, about halfway to the base of Mt. Hood.
The tower will be built by New Cingular Wireless, PCS, LLC d/b/a AT&T. AT&T spokesperson Jenny Blocker said repeatedly that the company has had a very difficult time finding a place to build a tower in the Kenwood area. A previous cell tower proposal across Sonoma Hwy. from Adobe Canyon Road failed when it was discovered that an open space easement on the property precluded any commercial building.
Kirsten Lindquist, The other North Valley SVCAC Commissioner, supported the application going forward.
“My take is that, given our incredibly intense connections through technology today, these towers are necessary. I am sympathetic to folks who have to live next to them, but I’m not sure how we can avoid having them go up in places where people need better electronic communications.”
Campana did not support the application.
“My feeling was that it was unfair to the neighbors,” Campana said. “We received as many pro as con letters, but the con letters were from immediate neighbors. The pro letters were from those concerned about cell phone service but would not have to live with the tower.”
Several commissioners took issue with the developer’s notion that cell towers do not affect property values.
“As a real estate agent, I find that extremely hard to swallow,” Lindquist said. “I think that there certainly has to be some impact on the value. No one wants to live next to a huge tower, but they are necessary. We understand how dependent we’ve become on these communications.”
Lindquist also thinks better designs might be useful.
“Why can’t these communications companies come up with less visible designs, more in keeping with settings? We are going to see more and more of them, so there’s a need.”
AT&T’s use permit application says that mobile data usage demand has increased by 20,000 percent since 2007 and that the new tower will bring effective 4G LTE technology to the Kenwood area, improving cell phone reception and data flow for residents, businesses and travellers over Sonoma Hwy.
The SVCAC is an advisory board only. This use permit application will have to be approved by the county’s formal planning bodies and the Board of Supervisors, after public hearings, before the tower can be built.