Nevada County zoning administrator OK’s 3 new cell phone towers |

Nevada County zoning administrator OK’s 3 new cell phone towers

The county’s zoning administrator on Wednesday approved three new cell towers in rural Nevada County — projects with an as-of-yet undetermined construction timeline.

The towers — at 11797 Globe Lane, 20596 Golden Bear Lane and 19406 Burning Bush Road — drew criticism from a crowd of about 25 people at the zoning administrator meeting. Some speakers cited radiofrequency emissions and the possible decline of property values as reasons to refuse the towers.

Brian Foss, the zoning administrator, said he couldn’t consider those arguments when making his decisions.

AT&T representatives said the towers would improve internet access and cell phone coverage.

Most opposed the towers during public comment, except for two people. One of them, Phil Summers, argued he could have used cell phone coverage after a hit-and-run collision on North Bloomfield Road.

Paula Orloff during public comment held the book “The Invisible Rainbow” by Arthur Firstenberg, claiming that emissions negatively affect animals like bees.

“Of course, we’re concerned about bee colony collapse,” Orloff said.

Johanna Finney said that people may want cell phone coverage, but that a vast majority of them don’t want to live next to a tower. Gaps in cell coverage is a separate conversation from one about an undesirable property.

Speaking about the Burning Bush site, Finney asked Foss to postpone making a decision.

“In my opinion it is not enough time to look into this,” she said.

Chris Bryant questioned what problem required the new tower, saying he has good cell coverage in the area.

“Is it a problem of coverage or lack of service for people?” he asked.

Jacqueline Janssen read a letter she said was penned by Nevada City Councilwoman Reinette Senum, who didn’t attend the meeting. In that letter Senum states some insurers now refuse to cover claims of injury from radiofrequency emissions. Senum also argues that any money gained from the project would be lost in future lawsuits.

“By consenting to these cell towers, you consent to massive liability,” Janssen read from the letter.

Alice Perez, with AT&T, said $360 million in federal funding tied to the Connect America program will enable her company to improve technology across California. AT&T must provide improved broadband access to over 145,000 homes — a requirement tied to the federal funds. The increased cell coverage is an added bonus.

“If we can’t build in Nevada County, then we will build somewhere else,” she said.

The towers, which will be disguised as trees, range in height from 108 to 130 feet.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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