A collection of Danville residents continue to resist the implementation of wireless cellular facilities near residential areas, and have filed an appeal with the town contesting the placement of one on Camino Tassajara, approximately 225 feet east of Gatetree Drive.
At its Oct. 23 meeting, the Danville Planning Commission approved a land use permit for a new wireless facility -- owned by Verizon Wireless -- on a public utility pole in a residential area. The installation's approval came over the objections of residents from the Danville Citizens for Responsible Growth, who on Friday filed an appeal challenging the decision.
“The approved location in close proximity to a home when more suitable locations are available does not comply with the town’s policy or ordinance requirements,” wrote Anita Taff-Rice in the appeal, on behalf of Danville Citizens for Responsible Growth. “There are several other locations more suitable that will comply with Danville’s Wireless Communications Ordinance, fill gaps with Verizon coverage and provide a buffer zone between residential areas.”
The appeal challenges the decision on five key points claiming that the facility will have negative impacts on property value, the commission did not take enough time to consider aesthetics, there is no evidence of coverage gaps for Verizon, more suitable locations are available, and the town violated due process by not adequately alerting the neighborhood.
Danville town staff have maintained that when it comes to regulating the placement of telecommunications facilities, due to federal mandates, they have very little control.
“Federal law prohibits local jurisdictions from establishing regulations or taking actions which would effectively preclude a wireless communications provider from delivering service,” town principal planner David Crompton wrote in a staff report.
Federal regulations largely limit municipalities in their ability to regulate the aesthetic design and placement of towers. The Federal Communications Commission mandates policies for the entire country, and has issued strict rules limiting the options of Danville and other municipalities.
If the town did deny the placement, as municipalities in Mill Valley and San Rafael have, the town would be open to potential litigation, according to Geoff Gillette, Danville’s public information officer.
“To be clear, DCRG is not attempting to prevent the installation of Verizon’s wireless facility," Taff-Rice wrote. "Rather, it seeks to ensure that the ultimate location takes into account the entire record, strictly follows the requirements of the Wireless Ordinance and by balancing the interests of increased communications capacity with the least impact to the general welfare of residents as required by (California).”
On their Facebook account, Danville Citizens for Responsible Growth have been attempting to crowdfund the costs of the appeal, reportedly needing $1,500 for attorney retainer and $300 for the appeal fee itself.
Previously, neighboring residents and group members have shown concern over perceived potential health risks that could result from the radio frequencies emitted so close to residential neighborhoods. Local municipalities have their hands tied by the FCC, however, who ban regulations based off of health concerns.
“Federal law (the Wireless Communications Act of 1996) prohibits local jurisdictions from considering perceived health effects when taking an action on a proposed facility,” Crompton wrote.
The FCC maintains that it is very unlikely that a person can be exposed to radio frequency levels in excess of their guidelines.
The approved Verizon tower is scheduled to be placed on a public utility pole and consist of four-foot-tall panel antennae on the top of the pole accompanied by related equipment mounted on the lower end.
As of yet, there is no hearing date set, according to Gillette.