Plans for a new Verizon cell phone tower moved forward Monday night, despite some qualms expressed by members of the Westlake Planning Commission.
The commission voted to approve the conditional use permit for the tower at 28579 Center Ridge Rd., three yes votes to two no votes. The measure will now go to City Council.
The proposed 100-foot tower would be located on the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church’s property. Bob Grant, an attorney for Verizon, said the company had been trying to find a spot for this tower for the past five years.
“Service issues in this area are very significant,” Grant said.
Residents had the opportunity to express concerns at a public meeting in October. Westlake Patch reported at that time that close to 25 people attended, and that many were concerned about health risks. Only one resident spoke up at the planning commission meeting on Monday, and she shared those health concerns.
Ultimately, the concerns were not discussed, even though commission members expressed interest. Grant said cities can’t discuss radio frequency emissions as part of their decision, according to the federal government.
Planning Director Robert Parry told members that his impression was that the majority of residents at the meeting in October were eager to know when the tower could go up. That area, which is near the Recreation Center and the hospital, has very weak service, he said.
Commission members asked about other possible locations for the tower, but Grant said those had been exhausted in the five-year search and that the church property was the “best and only option.” Verizon was turned down by the post office and the library, as well as other public areas, and a tentative plan with St. John Medical Center fell through, Grant said. The church parcel is more than 9 acres and there would be trees surrounding the tower to create a buffer for nearby residents.