A group of Danville residents continues to fight the implementation of wireless cellular facilities near residential areas, and the Town Council on Tuesday is set to weigh the group's appeal against the town contesting the placement of one on Camino Tassajara.
A land-use permit for the cell facility -- owned by Verizon Wireless -- was approved by the Danville Planning Commission at its regular meeting on Oct. 23. The installation's approval came over the objections of residents from the Danville Citizens for Responsible Growth (DCRG), who on Nov. 2 filed an appeal challenging the decision.
The small cell facility, proposed to sit on property approximately 225 feet east of Gatetree Drive, consists of the placement of panel antennas contained within a four-foot-tall radome on top of a six-foot extension of the pole and the mounting of related equipment on the lower portion of the pole.
The appeal letter -- submitted by Anita Taff-Rice on behalf of the Danville resident group -- makes a number of claims as to why the facility should be relocated.
“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).”
The main claims listed in the appeal include the facility will decrease the neighborhoods property value, there is no evidence of coverage gaps for Verizon, more suitable locations are available and the Planning Commission did not take enough time to consider the facilities aesthetics. They further allege the town violated due process by not adequately informing the community of the facilities proposed installation.
In a town staff report, Danville’s principal planner David Crompton counters these claims in turn and recommends that the council deny the appeal.
Crompton’s main point boils down to the fact that, due to federal regulations, local jurisdictions such as Danville cannot prohibit proposed facilities that limit providers from delivering service.
“The discretionary review authority that local jurisdictions have over the deployment of wireless communication facilities, especially in the public right-of-way, is largely preempted by federal and state law. The town’s authority is currently limited to aesthetic considerations such as consistency with any established local standards and design guidelines,” he wrote.
Crompton further wrote that “there is no evidence in the record that cell facilities have diminished land values in Danville.”
As for the accusations of a due process violation, Crompton said the town has fulfilled its requirements for public outreach. He stated that the town has adequately alerted the neighborhood to the installation of the facility, it has held a series of public hearings that were noticed as required by law and these meetings were also discussed in the media.
Previously, neighboring residents have shown concern over perceived potential health risks that could result from the radio frequencies emitted so close to residential neighborhoods. Local jurisdictions have their hands tied by the FCC, however, who ban local regulations based on health concerns -- which they say fall under federal jurisdiction.
The FCC maintains that it is very unlikely that a person can be exposed to radio frequency levels in excess of their guidelines.
The Town Council will meet to discuss the appeal at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. at the Town Meeting Hall, 201 Front St.
In other business
The council will discuss the creation of a Senior Advisory Commission to help advocate for Danville’s elderly population.
The five-person commission will be tasked with advising the council on issues that affect senior citizens living in Danville and help town officials establish age-friendly policies.