Canby City Council to Hear Appeal of Proposed AT&T ‘Monofir’ near Highway 99E

The Canby City Council will on Wednesday hear an appeal by AT&T to build a 130-foot cell tower next to the Pacific Pride fueling station, just off Highway 99E. The project, which was designed to resemble a fir tree, was denied by the Planning Commission, 5-2, on Aug. 26.

Planning commissioners were skeptical of AT&T’s proposed “monopole,” or “monofir,” for a variety of reasons, including its proximity to existing buildings (one of which is a commercial fuel station), and the possible availability of other, more suitable properties within their targeted service area. They also expressed some concerns about the design, which included a “break point” in which the structure was designed to fall over on itself in the event of a failure, rather than toppling onto neighboring buildings.

The city’s planning staff had recommended approval of the project. In their appeal to the City Council, attorneys representing AT&T did not mince words in identifying the numerous errors they feel the planning commission made in denying their project.

They claim commissioners did not correctly interpret the requirements of the Canby Municipal Code and “did not observe the precepts of good planning.” In addressing the specific concern with the 130-foot-pole’s proximity to the Pacific Pride fueling station, AT&T pointed out that this danger — if it is indeed a valid concern — would exist regardless of where the project is sited.

“The commissioners failed to recognize that the proposed facility, just like nearly every other wireless facility compound, will contain a back-up generator with fuel storage (usually either diesel or propane),” AT&T’s attorneys wrote. “(So,) no matter where the facility is located, flammable material will be stored within the compound next to the tower.”

They go on to argue that siting large oil tanks so close to a major highway presents “more of a potential safety hazard” than the siting of a wireless facility.

The choice facing the council on Wednesday night will be whether to affirm the Planning Commission’s decision and deny AT&T’s request, or overturn the Planning Commission’s decision and approve the project.

A third possibility is that they could remand the case back to the Planning Commission for a new hearing. But, if you ask me, that would be just…barking up the wrong tree.

The Canby City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at the Canby Civic Building. The meeting will also be broadcast live on local access channel 5 and YouTube by CTV.

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