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Council Puts Cellular Antenna on Hold


In an attempt to regulate the pace of cellular phone antenna installations in the city, the City Council voted last week to delay approving a proposal by Cox PCS Assets/Sprint.

The company wants to install antennas on a Southern California Edison tower within Bolsa Nursery.

The council, however, said it needs more information about cellular antennas and their impact in the community before approving more installations.

Underlining their concern, council members are considering a moratorium on the antennas while a policy on wireless communication antennas can be developed. A motion by Councilwoman Joy L. Neugebauer to defer a vote on the Planning Commission's recommendation to grant a permit for the antennas passed 3 to 2 Tuesday.

The vote came after the council discussed what impact the widespread installation of the antennas might have on the city.

Cellular phone antenna towers are a growing phenomenon in Southern California, popping up in some communities at the rate of two or three per week.

Although Sprint's current proposal is to use an existing 150-foot tower, some council members expressed concern about not having a policy in place.

"The city is getting so many applications from so many directions," Neugebauer said. "Our city needs some type of ordinance in place so we can proceed in an orderly, structured manner."

While one company's antenna on an existing tower may not pose any safety or aesthetic problems, said Mark Brewer, the city's public information officer, a cluster of antennas from various companies could be a problem.

Brewer, a former employee of Time Warner Communications, said the community might view numerous antennas as an eyesore. He added that a grouping of five or more might exceed radio frequency emission standards.

"Individually, the antennas are fine," Brewer said. "Collectively, they could go over the safety limit."

Neugebauer said her concern is that the installation might give Edison reason to delay plans to move power lines underground. She believes the company would be slow to move on any proposals to bury the lines because of the rental income from antennas.

Councilman Kermit Marsh said the city could be held liable by companies that have applied for permits but are then later informed that the city is considering a moratorium on the antennas.

Brewer said the council is looking into an antenna zoning ordinance before proposing a hold on installations.

Alex Murashko can be reached at (714) 966-5974.

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