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Citizens oppose cell tower

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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The Lincoln Crossing Homeowners Association has created an ad-hoc community issues committee tasked with blocking a pair of proposed temporary cellular towers at the future site of Jimenez Park, near Club Lincoln. That committee was created June 10, with board member Damian Armitage abstaining, as he is a member of the Planning Commission and also the Citizens’ Advisory Financial Task Force. The Lincoln City Council gave the nod to ComSites West, the company proposing the tower, to file an application for a conditional use permit, an application that will eventually be reviewed by the Lincoln Planning Commission at its June 9 meeting. At this time, the permit has not been filed, according to Keith Chambers, ComSites West’s operations manager. “Our desire is to present it sooner than later,” Chambers said. According to Bob Birdseye, an ad-hoc committee member, the committee was authorized by the Lincoln Crossing Community Association Board of Directors to deal with “various issues we face here in Lincoln Crossing, and more specifically, with the issue we’re currently tackling with the cell towers that ComSitres West wants to install in our community.” ComSites West’s current plan is to build a temporary site with two 90-foot towers and supporting ground equipment, which will be replaced with a permanent site when Jimenez Park is built. Jimenez Park will only be built once new development comes in and that timeline is anybody’s guess, according to prior news reports. “The equipment will generate noise of about 65 decibels, we feel that it will drop our home values and pose health risks to people who buy here,” Birdseye said. “What we have a problem with is the fact that no other sites are being considered.” According to Chambers, ComSites West will look at alternative sites as part of its application for the permit from the Planning Commission. “I think that group has made it very clear that they would like to see it in somebody else’s backyard, so to speak, and have us evaluate every alternative site,” Chambers said. Chambers said the site by Club Lincoln is ideal because it will fill a gap in cellular coverage. The six members of the ad-hoc committee said they don’t have a problem with cellular reception and would rather not see two towers, which they said are an eyesore. But other residents have different opinions. “I don’t get good cell-phone coverage,” said Lincoln Crossing resident Irina Olifir. “They do work but I’d rather have towers and better coverage.” Another Lincoln Crossing resident, Kristin Gnile, agreed with Olifir. “I don’t get good reception inside,” Gnile said. “I don’t know enough about the issue to say if I like the towers or not but I don’t think it’s too big of an issue.” According to committee member Jack Dorsey, residents “will change their minds” when they are informed of where the towers are going. “The first thing I thought was, ‘Oh, big deal,’ ” Dorsey said, “then it was brought to my attention what an eyesore it was.” To inform residents, the committee plans to soon pass fliers out to all 2,800 homes in Lincoln Crossing. “The only thing that will stop us from distributing fliers to this community is ComSites West stopping the plan to install it,” Birdseye said. The committee meets at 6:30 every Monday at Club Lincoln. Lincoln Crossing residents are invited to attend. “These towers, they’re trying to say they’d be temporary,” Birdseye said. “Temporary means they’ll only be five to10 years sitting outside our clubhouse here in Lincoln but it could go longer than that.” According to Chambers, ComSites West is hoping to work with the homeowners association but there could be pitfalls. “There’s a sense that some people on that organization like to stir the pot or just don’t like the towers anyway,” Chambers said. “”We’d be kidding ourselves if we think that we’re going to make everyone happy.” Once the conditional-use permit is applied for, the issue will come before the Planning Commission, when residents and ComSites West will be able to discuss the matter. Chambers said he can’t nail down a time, as there “are too many variables” in the application process. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.