An 80-foot-tall wireless communications facility proposed at Church of the Nazarene will once again be considered by the Moscow Board of Adjustment, which in March denied the application to construct the facility for the second time in more than two years.
The Moscow City Council on Monday night unanimously remanded the matter to the board with instructions to consider a plan that would reduce the diameter of the proposed tower. The decision came after somewhat lengthy discussion by the council and two failed motions — the first of which was essentially the same as the one that was ultimately approved.
The board in March said the tower would not be in harmony with the primarily residential neighborhood and the council on Monday also expressed concern about the size of the tower.
The tower, which would resemble a church tower, would be able to accommodate three carriers within a fully enclosed 800-square-foot area on the church’s property, which is located at 1400 E. Seventh St.
Moscow Planner Aimee Hennrich said in March AT&T would be one of the carriers and T-Mobile and Dish Network would be possibilities.
The proposed facility meets all applicable standards and criteria in Moscow City Code.
Councilor Sandra Kelly said the facility looks tall, bulky and not welcoming to the neighborhood.
“While coverage is important, I think aesthetics and being pleasing to the entire neighborhood (are) also very important, and I understand where the Board of Adjustment looked at this and had concerns. I have those very same concerns,” Kelly said.
Councilor Gina Taruscio said she doesn’t love 80-foot tall towers but the city is growing and it needs better cell coverage.
On April 16, the Moscow Community Planning and Design Department received a letter from Wireless Policy Group (Issaquah, Wash.) on behalf of Parallel Infrastructure Tower Development LLC (Charlotte, N.C.), which applied for a conditional use permit to construct the facility, stating it wished to appeal the board’s decision to the City Council.
According to the Board of Adjustment’s packet, the tower would fill a significant gap in AT&T’s high band 4G LTE coverage experienced by its customers in eastern Moscow as well as add network capacity to offload AT&T’s existing facilities west of Main Street. The facility would provide coverage to residential areas not able to be served by existing facilities due to the topography of the area.
The Board of Adjustment denied Pro Land LLC’s conditional use permit in 2018, claiming it would not have fit well in the neighborhood. Just like the current application, the application in 2018 asked to construct an 80-foot tall wireless telecommunications facility on the church’s property. The main difference is the facility design in that application was a stealth-style monopine tower intended to resemble a tree.
A law firm filed an appeal on behalf of the applicant and the Moscow City Council reviewed the appeal and sustained the board’s decision to deny the application in early 2019.
The council also on Monday directed city staff to prepare an agreement with a developer that includes public infrastructure improvements on the southwest part of town.
BBC LLC, which owns 232 acres south of the city’s 44-acre property -- proposed for ballfields-- on West Palouse River Drive, asked the city last month for its financial participation in extending Conestoga Drive and constructing a bridge on the proposed extended street that would cross the South Fork of the Palouse River.
Bill Belknap, deputy city supervisor of community planning and design, said that the construction would benefit both parties.
BBC is proposing a huge residential development on its 232 acres and it needs to extend Conestoga Drive and build a bridge to help facilitate the development, Belknap said.
The cost to construct the roadway, bridge and utilities is estimated at $2.37 million. The city would share $1.08 million of the cost under the city’s recommendation.
Because the proposed residential development and proposed development of the city’s playfields would bring increased vehicular traffic on West Palouse River Drive, the council stipulated, per city staff’s recommendation, that the city will only contribute to the project if BBC makes improvements to West Palouse River Drive from Conestoga Drive to South Main Street. Those improvements would include widening the street and adding curbing and sidewalk to the south side of the street.
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