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Wireless Tower Plan Voted Down by Moscow, Idaho, Board

The plan to erect an 80-foot cellular tower for use by AT&T was denied by the Moscow Board of Adjustment in a narrow vote. This is the second time in more than two years that the plan has been voted down.

by Garrett Cabeza, Moscow-Pullman Daily News / March 30, 2021
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(TNS) — For the second time in more than two years, the Moscow Board of Adjustment denied Monday night — on a 3-2 vote — an application to construct an 80-foot tall wireless communications facility proposed at Church of the Nazarene because the board felt the tower would not be in harmony with the primarily residential neighborhood.

"I just don't think it fits," board member Marshall Comstock said. The tower, which would have resembled a church tower, would have been able to accommodate three carriers within a fully enclosed 800 square-foot area on the church's property, which is located at 1400 E. Seventh St.
 
Moscow Planner Aimee Hennrich said AT&T would have been one of the carriers and T-Mobile and Dish Network were possibilities.
 
According to the Board of Adjustment's packet, the tower would have filled a significant gap in AT&T's high band 4G LTE coverage experienced by its customers in eastern Moscow as well as add network capacity to offload AT&T's existing facilities west of Main Street. The facility would have provided coverage to residential areas not able to be served by existing facilities due to the topography of the area.
 
"This will provide substantial additional coverage and capacity," said Kim Allen, of Wireless Policy Group LLC (Issaquah, Wash.), which submitted the application on behalf of Parallel Infrastructure Tower Development LLC (Charlotte, N.C.). Hennrich said the tower would have been about 18 feet taller than the top of the cross on the Church of the Nazarene. The church is located in the Neighborhood Business Zoning District where antenna towers are a conditionally permitted use.
Comstock said noise from the diesel generators, which would have run in the event of a power outage and once a week for one hour for maintenance, was a concern.
 
Board member Steve Bush agreed.
 
"To me that seems excessive to ask people to put up with that on a weekly basis," Bush said.
Comstock said cell towers are better suited for commercial and industrial zones instead of residential areas. The Vista water tank, Carol Ryrie Brink Park, the East Eighth Street water tank and a commercial property 0.35 miles south of the church were alternative tower sites proposed by the applicant.
 
Five members of the public spoke during the public hearing Monday night. Four of them opposed the application for the permit and one appeared to have mixed feelings. The reasons included the application was almost the same as the previous one in 2018, the tower would be an "eyesore" and it is not needed. "The claim that this is necessary is something that I would disagree with," said Gary Saunders, who lives in the neighborhood.
 
The Board of Adjustment denied Pro Land LLC's conditional use permit in 2018, claiming it would not have fit well in the neighborhood. Just like Monday's application, the application in 2018 asked to construct an 80-foot tall wireless telecommunications facility on the church's property. The main difference is the facility design in that application was a stealth-style monopine tower intended to resemble a tree.
 
A law firm filed an appeal on behalf of the applicant and the Moscow City Council reviewed the appeal and sustained the board's decision to deny the application in early 2019.
"Last time it was way off the mark I thought, and this time it's closer," board member Mark Monson said.
 
©2021 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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