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Carlsbad residents question cell tower

CARLSBAD — City planners are reviewing a proposed wireless communication facility on Carlsbad Village Drive that has some local residents concerned about property value and health issues.
Planners Chris DeCerbo and Shelley Glennon held an informal hearing July 26 to review the proposed Sprint/ Clearwire project with both the applicants and residents. Homeowner Max Perez requested the hearing during the city’s required noticing period.
“When stuff like this comes into our neighborhood, we take a big interest,” Perez said. “We don’t want our neighborhood to change — these projects aren’t making it any better.”
The project was initially approved by the city because it meets the requirements of Carlsbad’s Policy 64, which requires projects be installed in preferred locations and meet FCC regulations.
Sprint/Clearwire proposed the project for installation on the REMAX building roof located at 1265 Carlsbad Village Drive. It includes wireless antennas and directional units to increase wireless coverage in nearby residential areas.
Antennas would be located at the roof’s edges and hidden by an enclosure that matches the style of the existing building.
“You can’t shoot over the roof because you’ll lose all the signal,” Sprint/Clearwire engineer Fernando Carranza said as he explained why the antennas couldn’t be located in the middle of the roof. “We have to make the best of what we have to design with.”
Residents in attendance at the hearing voiced their concerns about loss in property value, health concerns and the visual appearance of the structure.
“Our neighborhood is bad enough as it is,” longtime resident Elizabeth Hickey said. Her house is located directly next to the proposed project site. “If I build up my house, I’ll be staring at it. Who wants to live with this?”
Due to the unique residential and professional zoning of the REMAX building, the project is closer to homes than usually permitted. Clearwire representatives reassured residents that the location meets all the necessary requirements and close proximity to the antennas should not be of concern.
“In order to provide coverage to these residential areas, we need that location,” Clearwire’s project planner Danielle Goldman said.
City planners will review the project again to determine whether the project is right for the neighborhood. They will release a decision within 20 days of the informal hearing.
“If it’s in a preferred location, stealth in design and meets the FCC regulations, then typically we don’t have discretion to say no,” DeCerbo said.
Should the project be approved, the residents have a right to appeal their case to the planning commission. The residents plan to continue reaching out to their neighbors for support against the wireless facility.
“What they’re talking about putting in our neighborhood is like putting a spaceship and a martian in the countryside with a guy holding a shotgun and a beat up truck,” Perez said.