South Lake Tahoe City Council delays vote on Ski Run Boulevard cell phone tower appeal
A vote on the fate of a proposed 112-foot cell phone tower off Ski Run Boulevard will wait until September.
An attorney representing Monica Eisenstecken, a Tahoe native whose Needle Peak Road home is adjacent to the proposed tower location, requested the delay to allow all five councilors to vote on the matter.
Mayor Brooke Laine was absent for what several councilors described as “personal reasons.”
Although many members of the public in the packed room expressed a desire to comment today, city attorney Heather Stroud advised City Council to delay the entire hearing to September, rather than take some public comment today and vote in September.
As Stroud explained, it is crucial that all councilors voting on a matter have the same information.
Federal Communications Commission regulations set a 150 day “shot clock” for local jurisdictions to make a final determination on new wireless facilities. That shot clock, which starts when a jurisdiction receives an application, would put the deadline the day before council’s next meeting in August, Stroud said.
If the deadline expires without a decision, the wireless company could take the matter to court and have it approved — effectively removing the decision from a local jurisdiction.
For those reasons, Stroud advised council to OK delaying the public hearing with Verizon Wireless — the company proposing the tower — in order to avoid a potential court battle.
A Verizon representative confirmed that the company supported delaying the hearing until council’s first meeting in September.
Verizon’s proposal involves installing a 112-foot stealth monopine, which is a cell phone tower disguised as a tree, at 1360 Ski Run Blvd. The proposal also includes removing two sheds on the property and installing a new shed to be used by Verizon as well as the property owner.
The South Lake Tahoe Planning Commission approved the project at its June meeting.
Eisenstecken appealed the commission’s decision, which is what council was scheduled to consider today.
She opposes the proposal based on several grounds, including aesthetic impacts, potential harm to property values and possible harm to health — the last of which is beyond the city’s purview.
A handful of neighbors spoke Tuesday prior to the start of the hearing in opposition to the proposal for many of the same reasons.
Verizon argues it is well within the acceptable parameters and that the tower will improve coverage in South Lake Tahoe.
This story will be updated.