STOCKTON — A resident’s claim that a proposed cellphone tower would impact views and aesthetics was rejected by city leaders.
The Stockton City Council on Tuesday voted 6-1 to deny the appeal of a use permit for a 75-foot cellphone tower located at 2050 W. Fremont St.
Councilwoman Christina Fugazi cast the dissenting vote.
The permit, along with the tower’s design review, was approved by the Stockton Planning Commission in July, but resident Mary Elizabeth filed an appeal, stating the tower would ruin downtown Stockton’s aesthetics.
On Tuesday, Elizabeth told the city council that insufficient analysis was performed on the impact the cell tower would have on residents’ views.
She claimed staff did not evaluate several impacted views, nor did staff present them to the planning commission in July. She added that there already were two cellphone towers in the area near the proposed site, and a third would deter developers from wanting to build in the surrounding undeveloped area.
“So this whole area was not evaluated,” she said Tuesday. “And I just point out the new city hall is going to be (nearby). So this may be something to take a look at. A cell tower facing these views may dissuade someone from using that area.”
The proposed location for the cell tower is occupied by an industrial maintenance service company, according to Tuesday’s staff report.
The facility would be secured by an 8-foot-high fence and allow for two wireless networks to co-locate, staff said.
Project applicant Diamond Communications currently owns a cellphone tower used by T-Mobile that is located on top of a water tank at 811 Buena Vista Avenue.
Brett Jolley, the attorney representing project applicant Diamond Communications, said the tank is scheduled to be demolished by California Water Service in the near future.
“So Diamond needed to find an appropriate location to put its facility so it can continue to maintain the same coverage,” he said. “The city prefers that it goes into an industrial zone rather than a residential area.”
Jolley added that Diamond Communications has plans to replace five similar towers currently located on top of California Water Service tanks, including one on South El Dorado Street and another on East Miner Street. Where those facilities will be relocated remains to be seen, he said.
Resident Julie Cox said because the tower will be located in an industrial area near the Port of Stockton, aesthetics will hardly be an issue for residents or motorists driving along Interstate 5.
“If you look across the water, there’s that big old ship, and it will always be a port,” she said. “It will always be very industrial. I feel because it is an industrial area, I don’t see the difference between a big old ship and a tower. I think it just looks the same to me.”
Councilman Jesus Andrade said the dispute over aesthetics could be solved if the tower could also double as a piece of public art.
“If there’s something else you can do — maybe with the arts commission or the arts community — about how you can beautify those panels… make it into something unique or pleasing for travelers as they’re going down I-5,” he said. “Looking at it right now, it does look like something out of Star Wars.”
Jolley said telecommunications companies typically avoid turning towers into pieces of art because it involves people climbing on and off to paint or decorate the facility.
Those activities, he said, hinder the main function of the tower, which is to deliver wireless service, but it is not unheard of that cell towers are used as public art.
Contact reporter Wes Bowers at (209) 546-8258, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesBo26.