A proposal to build a new 50-foot-tall cell tower and nine antennas at St. Albert the Great Church on Channing Avenue has received Palo Alto's approval despite opposition from area residents.
The city's Planning Department granted the AT&T project conditional approval last week, kicking off a 14-day comment period. It didn't take very long for residents who live around the church to voice their opposition to the project.
Stephen Stuart, who lives across the street from the church, submitted a letter to the city after learning about the approval. In it, he argued that the new tower would lower property values in the neighborhood. Neighbors also worry about the possible health effects of the cell tower, though Stuart acknowledged in his letter that health concerns cannot be used to deny AT&T's application.
Instead, Stuart is arguing the tower would violate the city's municipal code and run counter to its Comprehensive Plan. The city's regulations state that utility facilities "essential to provision of utility services to the neighborhood" require a conditional-use permit. Stuart wrote that "wireless facilities are not essential utility service to the neighborhood, and are therefore not a permitted use."
The proposed tower, he wrote, "is injurious to property and improvements through the decrease in property values" and will be "detrimental to general welfare due to demands of 24x7 maintenance, portable generators and hazardous materials."
"Placement of facilities is not required to be in the neighborhood in order to serve the neighborhood," Stuart wrote. "For example, such facilities could be located in adjacent commercial or other non-residential districts and serve the neighborhood."
According to the notice of approval sent to neighbors, the project will include a 50-foot tower and nine wireless antennas. The residents' appeal will trigger a more involved review process, including a hearing in front of the Planning and Transportation Commission.