Views of monopole vs. monopine designs proposed for Wooten Ranch in Palo Cedro.

The Shasta County Planning Commission on Mar. 8, 2012 approved three wireless telecommunication facilities—one in northern Palo Cedro, one in Bella Vista, and one in northern Anderson.

The project that generated the most controversy was a proposal by Landmark Wireless to locate a 110-foot tall monopole on a 78.98-acre property in the 11100 block of Deschutes Road owned by Shannon and Glenda Wooten.  The facility would be clearly visible from Deschutes Road to the west and from homes along the bluff above North Cow Creek to the east.

The Planning Department recommended approval of the project, but only if Landmark Wireless agreed to install a monopine tower instead of a monopole, because “the monopine design provides superior stealthing during the spring and summer months when leaves are on the deciduous trees in the immediate foreground and vicinity of the proposed wireless telecommunication facility. . . . In the winter, the monopine design would [also] provide superior stealthing because the monopine would be more consistent with the visual aesthetic of rural residential areas of the County where it is not uncommon to find evergreen trees naturally occurring and/or planted in the landscape.”

Landmark Wireless representative Karen Lienart explained to the Commission during the public hearing that the main reason her company had requested approval for a monopole design was that they had found the soil conditions in the North Cow Creek bottom land to be so soft and damp that building a suitable foundation for a cell tower there was going to cost them $110,000.  To build a monopine tower would cost another $110,000, while they could put up a monopole for a mere $25,000.  She indicated that if the Commission insisted upon requiring a monopine structure, her company would most likely decide the project was not cost-effective.

Property owner Glenda Wooten presented petitions from nearby residents in favor of the pole design and urged the Commission to approve it so everyone’s cell coverage would improve.

Commissioner James Chapin was not swayed.  He said that he worked in many rural areas which had no cell coverage at all and felt it was not necessary to have blanket coverage everywhere.  He also said that the monopines are much better looking than monopoles and companies that wish to build wireless telecommunication facilities must be able to bear the costs of doing so without asking for special cost advantages from the Commission.  He moved to approve the Planning Department’s recommendation for a use permit provided Landmark Wireless agreed to build a monopine design.

Commissioner John Cornelius seconded the motion saying he hates the monopole on the hill above Palo Cedro that interfered with motorists’ view of Mt. Lassen and thought the nearby monopine looks a lot better.

The Commission then voted three to two in favor of the motion with Commissioners Darrel Simmons and Dick Franks voting against it and Chairman Roy Ramsey voting with the majority.  He reminded the applicants that they could appeal the Commission’s decision to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, and in view of the split vote, he recommended that they do so.

In other business, the Commission unanimously approved a use permit for a 75-foot tall monopine wireless telecommunications facility for a 14.5-acre property owned by Verlund and Kathleen Spencer located on Highway 299E 1.3 miles northeast of its intersection with Blue Sky Road in Bella Vista.  The Vista Towers monopine structure would be barely visible from Highway 299 and neighboring residences due to surrounding vegetation and topography.

And finally, the Commission approved a 90-foot tall monopine wireless telecommunications facility for Verizon Wireless to be located behind the Sierra Pacific headquarters building north of Riverside Avenue in Anderson.  Commissioner James Chapin asked if the monopine and its utility buildings lay within in the 100-year flood plain for the Sacramento River, and planner Kent Hector said that they did, but as non-habitable structures they could be located there.