SVCAC supports Warm Springs Road cell tower
Over the objections of a number of neighbors, the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission (SVCAC) recommended the county approve a proposed Verizon wireless communications facility off of Warm Springs Road near Bennett Valley Road.
The facility, located on property at 2550 Warm Springs Road, would house equipment in a 67-foot faux water tower and, according to Verizon representatives, address a Verizon coverage gap in the area.
“It’s pretty much a dead zone for Verizon,” said Michelle Ellis, a land use planner with Complete Wireless Consulting, Inc.
A SVCAC meeting was held on Feb. 22, and ended with the advisory panel voting 6-2 to recommend that county planning officials let the project go forward.
The SVCAC did suggest that whenever the proposal’s use permit request is heard by the county’s Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA), that Verizon bring a coverage map that would indicate the range of the company’s coverage if it was to co-locate on another service’s wireless facility.
The SVCAC also suggested that Verizon submit a drawing to show what the faux water tank would like if other providers installed their antennas on the facility, and come up with a landscape plan to better shield the structure from a neighbor who shares the same driveway as the property in question.
Some neighbors in the area are adamantly opposed to the wireless station, and made their voices heard at the Feb. 22 meeting.
“No one wants to live near this,” said Diana Sanson, who submitted a petition in opposition signed by 18 nearby property owners. “It is so out of sync with the rural character of the neighborhood.”
Sanson and other neighbors who spoke brought up a number of issues, including studies indicating a loss in property value of homes near such a facility, and the negative visual impact of the tower on both private land owners in the area and for those traveling on Warm Springs Road.
In addition, some neighbors said they use AT&T service with no problem in the area, thus negating the need for the Verizon facility. Questions about radio frequency exposure also came up.
Verizon representative Ellis said that any radio frequency emissions are well within federal guidelines. She also said that any noise from the facility complies with county noise standards.
Ellis said at first Verizon proposed that the communications tower be housed in a faux tree, but that the county planner assigned to the project suggested the water tower look instead.
Ellis said that the nearest cell tower by another carrier is 1.7 miles away from the proposed project, and that usually a cell tower is built to cover a range of about a mile.
A BZA hearing is scheduled for April 20 in the hearing room of the county's Permit and Resource Management Department, 2550 Ventura Ave. in Santa Rosa. Any qustions or comments on the project can be directed to the PRMD planner handling the application, Gary Helfrich, at Gary.Helfrich@sonoma-county.org.