A scheduled public hearing, attended by cell tower detractors and supporters, was canceled Feb. 7 after council opted to send the issue back to planning commission for further review. Council did not vote on the plan. Approximately 35 individuals had attended the meeting and hearing Thursday night.
Verizon is seeking to place a cell tower on Prince of Peace Lutheran Church property, but has received resistance from an anti-tower group.
On Feb. 5, the city of Westlake received correspondence from the firm representing New Par d/b/a Verizon Wireless explaining how it came to arrive at the Prince of Peace Church location.
The letter said that it had received many complaints from residents about lack of cell phone service in the area dating back to 2001. New Par said it had an open offer for 90 days to allow interested property owner to submit their property for consideration.
It rejected city parkland due to the financial infeasibility.
Additional sites were considered.
“We attempted to collocate on the rooftop of St. Johns West Shore Hospital and got as far as submitting a zoning application,” the letter said. “However, the new owner killed the project on 10/15/10 because of plans to expand the facility.
“The library was approached on two different occasions since 2001 for a possibie(sic) lease of land space for a new tower. The answer was no on both occasions, They now have a new Director and Board of Directors who may be interested in a tower on library property. However, the available location near the library building may interfere with future expansion of the library.”
Additional information will be reviewed
The information was submitted to the city after it was requested.
“Since two meetings ago we asked for more information from the applicant,” Council President Michael Killeen said. “Council, believes this material should be analyzed.
“As of the last few days, we had a letter received Jan. 25 and Feb. 5…and today from the applicant.”
Killeen said the consensus of Council is that material should be sent back to planning commission for review.
“We’ve also received an outline against the cell tower,” Wheeler said, acknowledging information received from Laurie and James Frankito who have opposed the proposed tower. If built, the tower would be within 500 feet of their home. They have started an online petition against the tower.
Wheeler added he wanted to ensure both those for and against the tower had adequate information.
“I would like to urge the applicant and the Frankitos, who submitted the outline against the cell tower (to contact him),” Wheeler said. “The goal here is a full, equitable analysis of this. “I can be the transmission point between the parties.”
Killeen said no date has been set yet for a final analysis or vote.
“Council is aware there are parties who want this and parties who don’t want this,” Killeen said.
Frankitos support move
Following the Feb. 7 meeting, Laurie Frankito called the postponement "a good thing."
"There have been inconsistancies given in site review challenges by Verizon's attorney, Mr. Grant, beginning at the Planning Commission testimony," she said. "Now, all of the documents will be reviewed. We are hopeful that Verizon will get the transmission access they need in a spot according to Westlake's City ordinance. Keeping it on public land should be the goal so that our officials can minimize the damage to Westlake residents' home values and safety.
Frankito said she hopes Verizon hears the message that "they might not get everything they want but they can have what they need."
She also faulted the church's placement of the proposed tower.
"While I sympathize with the church's need for funds, they do not seem to have given the neighbors any consideration by putting the pole as close to others property lines as allowed by the city and as far as humanly possible from the actual church building," she said. "The towers have a stigma and nobody wants to be right next to them - even when they are getting paid. This is where keeping them on public or city property becomes key for all of us as residents."