At a work session Tuesday night, representatives of AT&T came to Cannon Beach seeking to develop a proposal to add an antenna to one of two cell towers located on South Spruce Street. The new equipment shelter may be subject to city design review, but the height addition may fall under Federal Communication Commission rules and not be subject to city approval.

City councilors said they are concerned about the extended height of the tower, and the potential impact of a new equipment shelter.

According to Public Works Director Dan Grassick, Verizon has already turned down AT&T’s request for collocation on the second South Spruce Street pole, limiting AT&T’s options at the site to the T-Mobile pole.

“My biggest concern is the height,” said Mayor Sam Steidel. “I know the Verizon pole is intended to go higher. I know that they see you going up, they’re going up, and I’m going to be opposed to that.”

Planner Mark Barnes said that the purpose of the presentation was to determine whether a request might direct staff to bring a lease the property. “If you’re moving in that direction, they need authority from you as a landowner to seek the land use applications they’ll need for this. If you’re inclined to proceed, you can authorize them to proceed with further detail.”

According to attorney Meridee Pabst representing AT&T, AT&T proposes to collocate a wireless antennas at 315 S. Spruce St., where two carriers already have wireless facilities. “This collocation will provide the Cannon Beach community with much-needed improvements to wireless service, at a time when demand for service is skyrocketing,” she wrote in a May 1 letter to members of the council.

She presented conceptual plans to the council, including a proposal for the collocation for the existing T-Mobile tower. “AT&T’s proposal is consistent with the city code’s first priority for wireless facilities, which is a collocation on an existing facility,” she wrote.

Pabst said the antenna would allow a “dramatic increase” on data transfer speed. “This would support local business and also tourism,” she told the council. “AT&T sought to minimize the impacts on the community. A collocation on city property avoids adding a new tower, avoids another site, this location provides a lot of natural screening, with evergreens and deciduous trees.”

According to Jacob Finney of Technology Associates in Portland, the AT&T antenna would be center at 66 feet on the existing T-Mobile pole, and the T-Mobile panel would be at 77 feet. The entire pole would raise 80 feet from the ground at the top of the pole.

He said that the closest trees were about 60 to 70 feet.

The added height is to accommodate both carriers and clear the tree line, said Finney.

The plan includes a plan to build a new equipment shelter adjacent to the existing equipment shelter on the site, about 12 feet by 24 feet, to be used to store condensers or other attachments to the shelter.

The equipment shelter application will be required to appear before the Design Review Board, said City Planner Mark Barnes.

A new FCC rule allows expedited review for any tower addition of 20 feet or less. Since the proposed AT&T collocation fits into the FCC rule, it would not any variance from the city, according to Barnes.

“If this was just a collocation, there would almost be no planning to say about it,” he said.

Council members directed staff to work with AT&T and bring a lease back to the council, and AT&T to apply for the permits they need. Depending on the design and plans, the equipment shelter could need to appear before the city’s Design and Review Board.#

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