The Yucaipa Planning Commission met on June 17, via in person and telecommunications. A conditional use permit to construct an unmanned telecommunications facility within a 362 square foot leased area for AT&T Wireless, which consists of 12 antennas, 36 remote radio units, a 74-foot tall mono-tower designed as a Eucalyptus tree, and associated ground mounted equipment was discussed.

Assistant Planner Travis Heaps said, “The project site is between Sand Canyon Road and Campus Drive, which is just north of Yucaipa Boulevard. The subject property is zoned as Institutional and surrounded with natural open space and other institutional uses. It is improved as a school facility and is over 176 acres. The nearest residential development is over 3,000 feet southwest to the project site.”

The project site is located toward the top of the hillside at the northeasterly corner of the property and adjacent to an existing telecommunications facility and water tank, and is accessed by a 14-foot wide paved service road.

“It is adjacent to the existing telecommunications facility,” said Heaps.

The Development Code encourages the colocation of existing cell towers; however, the existing tower is of an older design comprised of wood and cannot structurally support the new antenna equipment. Further, the required space for equipment would require the installation of a substantially taller tower.

The tower will be designed to mimic the appearance of a eucalyptus tree with the intention of concealing the antennas to help it blend into the surrounding environment. Faux branches, at a density of at least 3.4 branches per foot, are proposed beginning at a height of 15 feet and ending at a height of 74 feet. All branches shall extend past the antenna arrays to help camouflage the antennas. In addition, 12 antennas will be camouflaged by featuring matching “sock” covers that match the eucalyptus foliage with 36 remote radio units. The proposed tower will also feature a bark-like finish that resembles the texture and color of a eucalyptus tree trunk.

“The equipment enclosure itself will be fenced in with an 8 foot tall chain-linked fence with privacy slats. The tower itself will be surrounded with an 8 foot tall wrought-ironed fence.

Commissioner Chair, J.R. Allgower asked Heaps what the number of antennas normally are on a tower like the one being proposed. Heaps answered, “Twelve antennas are typically the normal amount.”

Planning Manager/City Planner Ben Matlock said, “Normally they are set up in a triangle configuration so there are three different sectors of four antennas on that tower for that individual carrier and then they will maybe have the radio remote unit behind it or the radio dish as well depending on the configuration needs of that service. The design itself, for this antenna is comparable to other cell towers within the city or other carriers.”

Allgower asked, “Is there any kind of maintenance agreement on the grounds around the tower or will it wind up a weed patch?”

Matlock said the carrier was responsible for the maintenance of the lease area for the subject property where its equipment is located. Areas outside the lease area were not necessarily part of its negotiations with the property owner but the planning commission could add to the CUP (Conditional Use Permit) other areas they would like to see maintained on the site.

Heaps answered, “To take down the old tower and to just colocate on the new tower, would require a significant height increase.”

Matlock added, “To have the distance requirement for the band width, a considerably taller tower would be necessary so it made more sense to do a secondary tower and then have this also to provide colocation abilities so ultimately all the carriers are up in that location.”

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