Board steps back from original cell tower plan

RANCHO SANTA FE — Days following the Rancho Santa Fe Association’s town hall meeting regarding cell towers in an effort to improve wireless coverage, the board reconsidered their former stance at their March board meeting.

At the town hall meeting, the “Concerned RSFA Members Group” consisting of S. Todd Neal, Ann-Marie Weller, Lisa Bartlett, Susan Foster, Laurel LeMarie and Mark Leslie gave a passionate and informative presentation.

They highlighted various issues including how the towers could have a negative impact and/or infringement on property values, its California historic landmark designation, Covenant restrictions, CC&Rs, and more.

President Ann Boon was first to speak at the March 3 board meeting. She thanked everyone who attended the town hall meeting earlier in the week.

“I especially want to thank those of you who spoke so eloquently of your concerns and worries. I think I speak for all of us when I say we’re deeply troubled, and we feel badly that we could have done anything that would have caused you to mistrust our motives or our actions,” she said.

Boon went on to say that in retrospect, the board members and the technology committee should have been the individuals that evening for the town hall meeting dialogue rather than the American Tower Company (ATC) and association manager.

Boon said that the board and technology committee listened that evening and will incorporate what they heard as they move on.

“I cannot emphasize strongly enough that no one on this board would ever consider taking any action that would violate our Covenant CC&Rs,” she said. “If members of the tech committee and the board can be faulted for anything, it is probably our overabundance of energy and enthusiasm.”

According to Boon, the committee members who worked on the cell project met with many service providers and did not arrive at their conclusions lightly.

“The whole team led so ably by Philip (Wilkinson) became champions of towers after serious analysis and not from a cavalier disregard of the concerns of friends and neighbors,” she said.

Boon went on to say that it was never anyone’s intention to avoid any steps in the process.

“For me personally, the most important thing for us as a board is to regain your trust,” Boon said. “I know that this too will be a process.”

Next, RSFA board member and member of the technology committee Phillip Wilkinson spoke who was in attendance at the town hall meeting.

“The committee recommends that we respond to the feedback we received and step back from the current plan of pursuing 90-foot towers in the Ranch and consider additional alternatives that may be better suited for the community,” Wilkinson said.

According to Wilkinson, the committee will revisit the DAS system, look at utilizing shorter faux tree towers, and other technology to gain better cellular coverage.

“In the meantime, we continue to push forward with our efforts to bring fiber optic broadband Internet service to every home in the Ranch,” he said.

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