If Verizon customers around southwest Albany want better reception, as some say they do, they should have shown up at Wednesday’s public hearing before the city council and supported the company’s application to to build a 120-foot cell tower near Pacific Boulevard and 53rd Avenue. But they didn’t.
The only one arguing in favor of a conditional use permit to allow the tower was Verizon’s lawyer. And the council majority seemed inclined to turn request down. Instead of taking immediate action, though, members put off a decision until Oct. 8.
The main issues are the tower’s height and its location. Verizon maintains that in order to fill a coverage gap in its broadband service, the tower has to be that tall and this is the only available property within the quarter-mile circle where its engineers have determined it has to be.
But the council appeared skeptical. (Councilor Rich Kellum flatly declared the point about the location to be “wrong.”) In the end, councilors gave E. Michael Connors, the Portland lawyer representing the company, until Oct. 8 to produce more documentation, especially on its efforts to find a site within the prescribed circle.
As proposed, the tower would be on a vacant but weed-choked property south of 53rd, about 40 feet west of the western property line of the Lakeshore Lanes bowling alley. Roger Nyquist, owner of the bowling alley, was one of three people testifying against the Verizon request. Among other things he worried about whether an earthquake would topple the tower on top of his building.
The planning staff, which recommended denial after previously reccommending approval (that was before the planning commission denied the permit) showed YouTube videos of ice falling from unidentified towers of unspecified height and whose location was unknown. Mayor Sharon Konopa at one point wondered if Verizon could disguise the tower by making it look like a tree. Connors suggested it wouldn’t look right.
If you want a full account of the two-hour-plus hearing, you can watch it on YouTube or on the council page of cityofalbany.net. (hh)