The City Council will soon weigh in on a controversy involving a cell tower approved for the top of First Presbyterian Church, near a preschool and dozens of homes where many are concerned about potentially cancer-causing radiation.
Neighbors of the church at Cuesta Drive and Miramonte Avenue have pulled together $500 to appeal the zoning administrator's approval of the cell tower earlier this month, said neighbor Jared Waxman in an e-mail.
"Apparently, the Zoning Administrator takes the position that any owner of a residential parcel could build a commercial telecommunications facility on that parcel without obtaining a conditional use permit, a variance, or a rezoning," Waxman said. "That does not make a lot of sense to us, and we are eager to hear what the City Council has to say on the subject."
In an petition opposing the tower, some neighbor's say they are unhappy with the church, which had a "moral obligation" to reach out to the neighborhood to discuss the cell tower before moving forward with it.
"This church chose cash over community," said neighbor W. Yee. "To me it's more of an issue of how the church has handled it. If their concern was with the community, they would have reached out to the community and said 'How many of you are customers of Sprint-Nextel? How many of you are interested in this service?'"
Pastor Tim Boyer told the Voice that a committee of church members approved of the cell tower, which would provide income for the church. Boyer would not disclose how much it is being paid. Another church representative said at the Nov. 10 zoning administrator meeting that tenants of the church, including Little Acorn Preschool and a group of Boy Scouts, were notified and no one complained about the idea.
Yee said that parents of the preschool, who did not find out about the cell tower until days before it was approved, are now being prevented from leaving notices for other parents at the church-run pre-school about the issue.
In his approval, Zoning Administrator Peter Gilli said federal law prevented him from rejecting the cell tower over concerns with radiation, which he said would be well below FCC limits.
The tower would be placed on top of a chapel on the southeast corner of the property, across the site from the church's main chapel.