The Baker City Council postponed its Tuesday meeting to consider Verizon Wireless’ appeal of the denial of its request to build a cell tower, after the attorney representing the company was unable to attend.
There was an issue with a flight for attorney E. Michael Connors, who filed the appeal on behalf of Verizon, said Holly Kerns, Baker City/County planning director.
The Baker City Planning Commission voted 5-2 on Dec. 4 to deny Verizon’s request to build a 70-foot tower near Leo Adler Field.
Verizon appealed the Planning Commission’s ruling to the City Council.
Councilors were scheduled to consider the appeal starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
Kerns said the meeting will be rescheduled, but no date or time had been set as of this morning.
The city’s zoning rules allow Verizon to build a tower up to 50 feet tall on the industrial property just north of D Street.
But according to the company’s application, engineers determined that a 70-foot tower is the minimum required to meet Verizon’s goal of correcting a gap in cell coverage and adding to its capacity in the city.
Several residents who testified at Planning Commission hearings said the tower, even with the addition of green “branches” designed to make the tower resemble a pine tree, would mar their views.
A majority of the Planning Commission determined that it was not possible to mitigate the tower’s visual effects without limiting its height.
In his appeal, Connors wrote that by denying the 70-foot tower the city would violate the Federal Telecommunications Act by “prohibiting the provision of wireless services in the City.”
Connors also wrote in the appeal that if the city denies Verizon’s application, “it would be virtually impossible for Verizon to site a tower to resolve the significant gap in coverage and capacity in the City.”
Connors also cited court decisions as precedent giving wireless companies “a considerable amount of discretion” in determining whether a gap in cell coverage justifies the construction of a tower.
Alan Blair, the longtime chairman of the Planning Commission who retired Dec. 31, was one of the five who voted to deny Verizon’s application.
Blair said he believes the Commission followed the city’s zoning rules in rejecting the request based on the tower’s effects on views.