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Homeowners Group Lobbies for Antennas

ORANGE | Community News Focus

June 19, 1996|LESLEY WRIGHT

City officials, trying to spare residents the more unsightly aspects of cellular technology, are now under pressure from some homeowners to allow wireless antennas to proliferate at a more rapid pace.

City Council members were prepared last week to vote on a revised zoning law permitting antenna towers to sprout in some nonindustrial areas, but not in residential neighborhoods.

Instead, they sent the ordinance back for a rewrite when one homeowners group argued that it could make money leasing property to cellular companies.

Situated near zones allowing the towers, and convenient to the freeways considered desirable by cellular companies, members of the Park Orleans Homeowners Assn. on Glassell Street lobbied to be cut in on the profits of these burgeoning industries.

"Where is the equity in this ordinance?" asked Bill Blodget, the association's treasurer. "This ordinance gives us less--we have all of the downsides and none of the upsides."

Blodget was referring to an expansion of the code to allow antennas on school sites and professional office districts, but still more than 100 feet from any residential zone.

Currently, the towers are allowed only in commercial and industrial areas.

Some council members said they were worried about setting a precedent that would allow the towers to be planted all over the city, destroying the aesthetics of communities.

But others said that homeowners who want the towers should be able to present their cases on an individual basis.

"You don't want proliferation of antennas, but you've got to have some realism too," said Councilman Mark Murphy.

Planners will come back next month with a revised law that will allow homeowners associations near freeways to apply for permits, along with the other changes.

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