Palo Alto Little League tries for cell tower again
Original post made
on Mar 28, 2014
A community meeting held Thursday by the Palo Alto Little League and Verizon Wireless over a proposed cell antenna at the baseball field on Middlefield Road cleared up misconceptions about the project, but it was not a home run.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Friday, March 28, 2014, 9:57 AM
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Posted by Ballpark Neighbor
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 2, 2014 at 4:36 pm
As a neighbor and meeting participant, there are a number of misconceptions and errors in this article and the comment thread.
1) The only people at the meeting that discussed radiation safety were the consultant brought by NSA/Verizon and one of the Little League board members. All of the insults about radiation and "tin hats" that are directed at the neighbors are misplaced and irrelevant.
2) While some financial numbers are presented in the article, it is significantly less than the full picture. The article fails to mention the Little League's $250,000 cash reserve. It mentions they paid $45,000 for new sprinklers, but fails to mention that were it not for that expense they would have added another $40,000 to their cash reserves. All that cash and they don't do much at all in the way of fundraising. What in the world are they saving all that cash for while claiming they can't afford to fix the bathroom? By owning their own ~$8 million property, the league has significantly lower field rental costs (and no contention!), unlike other kids' sports in Palo Alto. Interestingly, the financial slide that they presented at the meeting has disappeared from the version they have posted on their website.
3) The woes of uncovered players and spectator seating and effects of rain are issues shared by all other outdoor sports, including girls softball and all soccer, lacrosse, football, etc... leagues.
4) Most importantly, the biggest concerns raised by neighbors are the overall impact of this project, not just the existence of a single 65' pole. Once a cell tower is in place at a site, federal law (Middle Class Tax Relief And Job Creation Act of 2012, section 6409) states, " State or local government may not deny, and shall approve, any eligible facilities request for a modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such tower or base station." The term, "substantially change" as applied to wireless communications towers is defined in FCC.Public-Notice-on-6409-4, and essentially would allow Verizon to add multiple 20 foot extensions in height, change the three foot wide antennae enclosure to a 20 foot wide appurtenance, and add three additional equipment cabinets with hydrogen fuel cell batteries. In addition, once Verizon has a cell tower at this site, other carriers can request additional towers and sue the city for discrimination if they are denied (Telecommunications Act of 1996). What the neighbors don't want, is an "antenna farm" with 100' plus cell towers. When specific questions were asked about the possibility of adding height or additional poles Charnell James did her best to respond in a way that seemed to answer the question, but in fact simply avoided it. When asked if other carriers could co-locate on the pole, she gave a lengthy dissertation on why none would WANT to - when pressed she finally acknowledged they COULD. When asked if the pole could be made taller without any further public review, she said the city ordinance is a max height of 65' - she didn't mention the ability for the city to grant variances to it's ordinances (such as they did to install the 60' light poles where the city ordinance dictated no taller than 12'), nor did she acknowledge the complex language in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that basically makes local ordinances irrelevant to communications facilities. And when asked if additional towers could be added more easily at this site once a single tower was in place, she again tried to avoid answering directly. The bottom line is that once a tower goes in, the ballpark will be a prime target for every other carrier, and will be quite profitable for Verizon to lease out additional space on the existing pole, while it makes the pole taller and maintains the "top spot." This property that is zoned Single Family Residential may very well become an ugly antenna farm, and no one will be able to stop it. As an example from Jeffersonville, Indiana, where Crown Castle requested to increase the height of an existing tower despite community objections, "Corporation Attorney Les Merkley said the board had no choice but to favorably recommend the variance to the finance committee because the federal government regulates wireless towers.
"In six years as the attorney representing BZA and the planning commission, I've only lost one suit and it was for a cell tower," Merkley said. "I became very familiar with these laws, and right or wrong, it's pretty much pre-empted by federal law."
Again, this property is zoned R1 Single Family Residential, and only operates as a ballpark under a variance granted by the city. If (more like when) this property is sold how can it be developed into Single Family Homes with cell tower(s) and access easements across it? More likely, a developer will request a zoning change and we will get more high-density housing in an SFR neighborhood - another Maybell.
5) The neighbors have consistently asked the City for a overall wireless plan, which the federal government does allow and would provide a sensible approach to providing wireless coverage without a random proliferation of cell towers based on carriers' profits instead of resident needs. And yes, all of the neighbors opposed to the ballpark cell tower use cell phones, are in high tech, and are intelligent and rational. In fact, most of us are Verizon customers who do not experience any issue with our service.
I'm sure I will now be attacked for my "paranoia" and for being a "hypocrite," but everything I have said is verifiable fact. It does require some effort educate yourselves and act intelligently, but I would hope at least the reasonable among us would be up to it.