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Nevada County supervisors formally reject cell tower on Wildlife Lane

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors offered no surprises Tuesday when they prohibited the construction of a cell tower on Wildlife Lane.

Supervisors two weeks ago signaled in a 4-to-1 vote they’d uphold an appeal filed by residents and stop the AT&T tower, intended to provide broadband service to between 70 and 133 people.

On Tuesday they mirrored that vote, formally finding that the 110-foot tower would be inconsistent and incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood.

Supervisor Dan Miller opposed.

Supervisor Heidi Hall said officials must identify areas that need service, not approve a tower because AT&T is “scrambling” to meet a deadline. Instead the county should be methodical in its approach toward increasing cell service.

“These are not high priority locations,” Hall said of Wildlife Lane.

Supervisor Sue Hoek suggested the county perform a study and determine where service is lacking in Nevada County.

CEO Alison Lehman said no such studies exist.

Miller slammed the decision, calling it “a perfect example of NIMBYism.” He questioned who holds responsibility if an area has no cell or landline service, and residents don’t know about an evacuation order.

“It comes down to a question of responsibility for the board,” Miller said.

County staff’s reasons for upholding the appeal include the tower’s inconsistency and incompatibility with the neighborhood, its failure to blend in with the existing environment and the site’s inadequate size and location.

“There’s two sides to this story,” said Hall, speaking immediately after Miller.

AT&T had requested in a Monday letter that supervisors postpone their vote and give the telecommunications company time to provide more of an explanation. However, Miller said AT&T had time at a May 28 meeting and no postponement was needed.

The Wildlife Lane project was part of AT&T’s plan to install towers in rural parts of the country. The company is obligated to build towers as part of government funding it received.

Alice Perez, area director of external affairs with AT&T, has said her company can meet its obligation by building in another county.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.


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