Nevada County supervisors oppose new cell tower
Nevada County Supervisor Ed Scofield said he usually supports new cell towers.
However, he wasn’t going to approve one at 13083 Wildlife Lane.
Speaking near the end of a Tuesday hearing for a tower, Scofield said the proposed 110-foot AT&T tower would bring broadband access to only some 70 homes. He chided the telecommunications company for what he called poor community outreach, saying residents who attended the hearing opposed the tower.
“Nobody wants it,” Scofield said. “Nobody seems to need it.”
Scofield supported a motion of intent by Supervisor Heidi Hall, as did Supervisors Richard Anderson and Sue Hoek, granting an appeal by Wildlife Lane residents and denying a permit for the tower. Supervisor Dan Miller opposed.
A final vote on the issue is expected in two weeks, which will give county staff time to prepare the necessary documents detailing the reasons — called findings — supervisors relied upon to grant the appeal.
Alice Perez, area director of external affairs with AT&T, said her company met all county requirements for the tower. County staff recommended supervisors reject the appeal and approve the tower.
Perez said her company likely will examine sites outside Nevada County, if supervisors follow through in two weeks and grant the appeal. It will continue to pursue seven other spots locally, some of which supervisors already have approved.
Talking to supervisors, Perez said the tower was part of AT&T’s Connect America project. AT&T accepted funding from the Federal Communications Commission to expand broadband in designated areas. Some of those areas include Nevada County.
AT&T must meet certain deadlines, with a final completion date set for next year.
“The clock is ticking and each site is extremely important,” she said.
The county’s zoning administrator approved a permit for the tower in March. Wildlife Lane residents appealed, putting the issue before the Board of Supervisors.
Rod Corvington was one of a handful of people who filed the appeal.
Corvington said he moved to Nevada County because of its beauty, clean air and history.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said of the tower.
Jens Larson said the tower would bring coverage to only 70 homes.
Nevada City Councilwoman Reinette Senum asked supervisors to investigate tree mortality she said is linked to cell towers.
“This has not been part of the conversation,” she added.
Others argued that the tower isn’t a proper fit for the area.
“They’re just spending money they have to spend,” Kurt Anderson said of the FCC dollars. “We’re just trying to preserve what we have.”
Anderson questioned building a tower that would service 70 homes only, saying it appeared cost ineffective. Perez said that’s the reason the FCC is subsidizing the cost. Otherwise companies wouldn’t invest in infrastructure in low-density rural areas.
Hall suggested AT&T needed to meet its deadlines and wants to show it’s making progress.
“But there is a rush on this,” Hall said.
Perez disputed Hall’s characterization, saying the process to place towers here began in 2017. She then added that if supervisors granted the appeal, her company could still meet its obligation by placing a tower in another county.
“I can’t tell you my next steps,” Perez said after the meeting. “I have to go back to my company.”
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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