|The purpose of this request is to consider a new fifty (50) foot cell tower and accompanying ground equipment(Attachment 2), located on the Sahuaro Vista Veterinary Clinic property, near the southwest corner of Cool Drive and Oracle Road (Attachment 3). Per the applicant, the proposed cell tower is replacing a tower that was recently decommissioned in the area causing a service "dead" zone.
As stated in Attachment 1, approval of proposed cell tower is contingent upon the approval of a related code amendment regarding setback requirements for new cell facilities (for more information, please refer to the Discussion section of this report). This code amendment will be considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission on July 10 and subsequently by Town Council on July 18.
As proposed, the cell tower is defined by the Zoning Code as a Tier II Minor Communication Facility. Tier II facilities are discernible facilities and those that exceed the underlying zoning district's allowed building height require consideration by the Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council approval.
The proposed communication facility includes:
The focus of review is the use of stealth applications, or camouflaging of the proposed tower and that it meets the dimension and development standards established in the Zoning Code. As such, the attached conditions ensure that the proposed cell tower meets all required setbacks and the mono-elm design is painted and shaped to match native plants common in the area and listed on the Zoning Code's approved plant list (Attachment 1).
- New fifty (50') foot tower camouflaged to look like an elm tree
- Ground equipment screened by an opaque eight (8) foot wall
- Immediate collocation by Sprint
Staff finds the request fulfills a need in the area, meets the code provisions (pending approval of the related code amendment) for Tier II Minor Communication Facilities and recommends approval, subject to the condition in Attachment 1.
The proposed fifty (50) foot cell tower is located on the Sahuaro Vista Veterinary Clinic property, near the southwest corner of Cool Drive and Oracle Road. The proposed cell tower is replacing a tower that was recently decommissioned in the area, which caused a service "dead" zone. The cell tower is located on a commercially zoned property (C-2) and surrounded by other commercial uses, except for a multi-family residential development to the north.
Pending approval of a related code amendment to Section 25.1 of the Zoning Code and fulfillment of the attached conditions, the proposed cell tower meets all Tier II Minor Communication Facility requirements. A Tier II Minor Communication Facility is a discernible cell tower which 1) meets the dimensional and development standards of the Zoning Code and 2) uses stealth applications to the greatest extent feasible.
Dimensional and Development Standards
Tier II Minor Communication Facilities may be fifty (50') tall, as long as collocation is immediately available. As proposed, the cell tower will be immediately utilized by both Verizon and Sprint (Attachment 2). Additionally, the code currently requires all new towers be setback two (2) feet for every one (1) foot in height from all buildings (including onsite), property lines and overhead wires. This requirement was established as a safety precaution should the tower collapse. However, new technology and materials eliminate this safety concern.
As such, the related code amendment (pending approval) requires cell towers to conform to the underlying zoning district's building setbacks and be set back two (2) feet for every one (1) foot in height from any property where the primary use or purpose is for a dwelling.
The table below provides the required (pending approval) and proposed setbacks:
|| 185 feet
|| 71 (east), 23.3 (west)
|| 76 feet
|| Over 220 feet
The proposed cell tower meets all the required setbacks, except for the side setback (25 feet) from the western property boundary. A condition of approval is included in Attachment 1, requiring the location of the cell tower be revised to meet this setback requirement (pending approval of the associated code amendment).
Stealth design is the camouflaging of a cell tower through the use of design, colors, materials, height and width. The applicant has demonstrated the proposed modifications use stealth applications to the greatest extent feasible. These methods include:
A photo simulation of the proposed cell tower is provided in Attachment 4. The simulation is of a generic mono-elm. The applicant must work with staff, as specified in the Attachment 1 conditions, during final review to assure it matches native plants common in the area that are listed on the Zoning Code's approved plant list.
- Camouflaging the tower as an elm tree. A condition of approval is included in Attachment 1, requiring the mono-elm be painted and shaped to match native plants common in the area and listed on the Zoning Code's approved plant list.
- Antennas protruding from the pole less than 4 feet.
- Encasing the new antennas in "socks" to look like leaves.
- Ground equipment screened by an eight (8) foot opaque wall, painted to match the building.
The proposed cell tower is compatible to the surrounding area based on the following:
Design Principle and Design Standard Conformance
- The pole is located on a commercially zoned property, surrounded by other commercial uses, except for an apartment complex to the north
- The use of stealth applications to camouflage the tower as an elm tree
- An improvement to the recently decommissioned tower that was located closer to residences and did not utilize stealth applications
The Design Principles and Design Standards applicable to this request are shown in italics, followed by staff comments.
Wireless communication facilities shall be located in areas and designed in a manner which reduces the visual impact on the proposed project and surrounding area.
Wireless communication antenna shall utilize the verticality provided by buildings and shall be incorporated into building design when applicable and appropriate. Visual impact of antenna and towers shall be reduced through the use of concealment methods including alternative designs and co-location on vertical elements of the development such as power poles, light poles and flag poles.
The proposed cell tower is surrounded by commercial uses, except for an apartment complex to the north. The complex is over 220 feet away, across Cool Drive. The proposed cell tower is an improvement to the recently decommissioned tower, as it utilizes stealth applications to the greatest extent feasible. Additionally, residences with the greatest potential for experiencing impacts to views (west of the site) are located roughly 1000 feet, or three football fields away.
General Plan Conformance:
The proposed cell tower has been reviewed for conformance with the General Plan. Notable policies related to this request include:
Policy I.1. Accommodate community services and utilities that meet the larger community needs and goals.
Policy I.2. Consider aesthetics and visual impacts of utilities and aging infrastructure during the planning, design or upgrade process, to the extent reasonably possible.
Policy I.4. Identify and facilitate the replacement and timely upgrade of aging infrastructure as needed.
Per the applicant, the request is replacing a cell tower that was recently decommissioned, causing a "dead" zone in service. The proposed cell tower meets the community's need for service in this area and offers an immediate opportunity for collocation. The proposed cell tower utilizes stealth applications to the greatest extent possible to reduce visual impacts. Residences with the greatest potential for experiencing impacts to views (west of the site) are located roughly 1000 feet, or three football fields away.
Notice to the public was provided consistent with Town-adopted procedures, which include the following:
A neighborhood meeting for this request was held on June 26, 2018. There was one business owner in attendance. The primary concerns regarded a nearby cell facility. However, the following questions and concerns pertain to this application:
- Properties within 600' feet
- Posting at Town Hall
- Posting on the subject property
- All registered HOA's
The applicant addressed applicable questions and there were no outstanding items regarding the subject facility. Additionally, a condition is included in Attachment 1 requiring the mono-elm to be painted and shaped like other native plants common in the area and listed on the Zoning Code's approved plant list. A summary of the neighborhood meeting is included in Attachment 5.
- Process for choosing the proposed location
- Process for choosing and recruiting providers to collocate
- Example of mono-elm technique
- Proposed height and views
- Distance between the proposed tower and others in the area