No more extensions; Verizon appeal hearing set for Nevada City
Nearly a year since Nevada City’s planning commissioners denied a proposal from Verizon Wireless to install eight cellular antennas atop a building in the downtown historic district, the company’s appeal will be heard this month.
Although Verizon had requested a third extension on the appeal hearing, City Council members denied the request Wednesday and set the matter for a Sept. 27 meeting.
Verizon originally proposed an installation at 109 N. Pine St., but said in its appeal it would search for alternative sites — and had sought an additional 30 days to finalize details of its plan. Mark Lobaugh of Epic Wireless, representing Verizon, said in the company’s plan is in its final stages but needed more time to “complete our submittal materials for a possible replacement site.”
Councilmembers denied that request, noting they’d already granted two extensions for the appeal hearing. Some councilmembers said they feared the company sought to delay the appeal in hopes that Senate Bill 649, the Small Cells Bill — which proposes giving cellular companies the legal right to install wireless infrastructure without local government permission — would take effect, potentially superseding any decision made by the City Council.
“It’s a delay tactic so they can wait for the legislation,” said Councilmember Evans Phelps.
Nevada City staff and councilmembers have attended multiple State Senate hearings in Sacramento to voice opposition to the bill. The city submitted a letter to Senator Ben Hueso, who authored the bill, in May, declaring Nevada City’s opposition and requesting an amendment to exempt historic districts in order to retain the right to regulate wireless infrastructure installations at the local level.
Mayor Duane Strawser said Wednesday the City Council wasn’t blocking Verizon’s ability to install new antennas in the city, but was “simply shutting down the progression of appeals.”
If the wireless company’s appeal is denied later this month, it will have to submit a new application to the city and go before the planning commission again.
“I was OK with the first continuance when we granted that. I felt like they needed more time to find a location,” said Council- member Valerie Moberg. “They’ve still had plenty of time to get to this point, so I think it should go back to the planning commission.”
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4231.
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