During a joint public hearing, the Madison County (CA) Supervisors unanimously approved a special use permit for a 175-foot tower proposed by Community Wireless Structures (CWS). The Orange County Review reported the site is slated for a 376.2-acre parcel of private property near the Turnpike and will provide coverage in the highway corridor.
The facility will consist of a 50-foot by a 100-foot fenced-in compound with a 175-foot tall monopole. Initially, the tower was proposed at 199-feet tall, but the height was decreased based on the State Historic Preservation Office’s request.
CWS legal representative Butch Davies said the project has been in the works for approximately three years. He added that the location would “provide significant service to an area that is not currently served.” The tower would include space for use by the county’s emergency services, reported the Review, and two carriers, including Verizon Wireless, are already interested in co-locating on the tower.
“It really fills in and covers the hole in the donut,” Davies said about the impact the tower would have on the lack of service currently on Rt. 231 and Route 20. “It offers access to fixed wireless broadband and mobile wireless, plus improved public safety.”
According to Madison County Director of Emergency Communications Brian Gordon, the tower will be beneficial to public safety since, currently, little to no service exists in that area. He added that in most cases, a call to 911 from the area would be directed to Orange County Emergency Communications, which could result in a delay in services. However, the new tower would eliminate that problem and provide first responders with alternate communications during emergencies.
Fire company member Steve Hoffman added that firefighters couldn’t communicate back to the firehouse due to lack of service. “If we can save one life with the cell tower going up, we’ve done something great,” he said.
Several residents did oppose the project via letters to the supervisors and planning commission. One neighbor said the tower would be an “eyesore” along the scenic byway and questioned why it was necessary when other towers exist in the area, reported the Review.
Resident William Rother said the photos CWS provided were “misleading” and that other locations were presented that would have allowed for a more minimized view of the monopole. He also said new technologies are being developed which would utilize satellites for cell phone communications, making cell towers obsolete. “Don’t impact the landscape forever for a short-time need,” he said.
Supervisor Charlotte Hoffman said she remembers when the first tower came to the county, people were upset, but now no one notices it. “This is needed,” she added.