Carmel Valley Neighbors Drop AT&T’s Call
Local outcry stalls approval of proposed cell tower
Thursday, April 7, 2011
AT&T says Carmel Valley needs a new cell phone tower at Holman Ranch. But a group of upset neighbors doesn’t want to hear it.
The company is proposing to build a 40-foot wireless telecommunication facility, 12-by-20-foot equipment shelter with a GPS antenna, 20-by-4-foot retaining wall and 6-foot fence on a ridge at 60 Holman Road. A portable cell tower would be used while the permanent one is under construction.
But Rosemary Matson, 93, who lives about 300 feet downhill from the site, worries the project could exacerbate existing slope instability – possibly triggering a landslide. She and other neighbors allege AT&T never addressed that risk.
AT&T spokesman Lane Kasselman says those fears are unfounded. The proposed site was chosen based on engineering and in close consultation with county staff, he says; any impacts would be mitigated.
The exponential growth of iPhones, iPads and other mobile broadband devices has created an urgent need for another tower in the area, he adds, particularly since a quarter of all U.S. households use cell phones to dial 911. “In Carmel Valley, there’s a real need for this for public safety.”
Project opponent Frank Hennessy supports a new tower for Carmel Valley, but feels a pole at Holman would mar views. “AT&T should comply with the [county] General Plan and select a site with the least visual impact,” he writes by email. “Any competitive edge for AT&T should be balanced with the aesthetic price we all pay.”
Kasselman counters the proposed tower would look like surrounding pines, a technique called “stealthing.”
County staff recommended approval, but opposition appears to have given the Planning Commission pause. Commissioners continued the hearing to later this spring.