Proposed pole gets bad ‘reception’

VINLAND — Even though Verizon has yet to file a formal application with the City of Poulsbo for a proposed facility near Vinland Elementary School, neighbors are already giving a clear signal about their concerns.

The wireless service provider’s current plan involves erecting a 120-foot monopole structure on the east side of Rhododendron Lane immediately north of the area’s elementary school.

The facility is being proposed in an effort to take a proactive approach to meeting the expected increase demand in wireless communications in the area, said Robert Renken, the consultant for Verizon on the project.

“Our objective is get to both sides of the ridge, but we can’t be too close to our other tower because of interference,” Renken told the 18 residents at the Aug. 3 informational meeting. “It’s basically like trying find a needle in a haystack.”

Engineers reviewed several possible locations for the facility, but concluded that the site needs to be on the ridge line to achieve the maximum coverage area, he said.

“If we put it below the ridge, we’ll lose some coverage and if we don’t put it above the trees, the same thing will happen,” Renken said, adding that initially Verizon sought to erect a 150-foot pole, but decided to lessen it to 120 feet, which is the minimum height required to meet its proposed service goals.

The company is committed to doing whatever it can to help the facility blend in with the surrounding area, he said.

“Instead of leaving it with a galvanized coating, we could paint it green up to the tree line and blue above that,” he said.

City of Poulsbo Associate Planner Randy Kline told residents that the facility is permitted under the city’s zoning codes with a conditional use permit, which puts restrictions on its appearance and location.

“A conditional use permit could be granted as long as it doesn’t have adverse affect on the character of the neighborhood but that would have to be granted by the city council,” Kline said.

When residents raised concerns about declining property values and the inability to sell their homes, Kline responded by saying that recent discussions with developers in King County had changed his perception on the issue.

“When I asked them about it, they said it was no big deal, because everyone uses cell phones and would still buy houses,” he told the residents.

Another issue raised at the meeting was the possibility of more cellular facilities being constructed in the area, since Renken mentioned that Verizon was also looking at another location on Beaver Ridge, north of Olhava.

“From an engineering standpoint I’m concerned that they didn’t look at the fire department and PUD sites,” said Dick Giachino, who lives in the Vinland Crest subdivision near the proposed site.

Those two locations would put the facility further north of the residential area and could provide the same level of coverage, Giachino commented.

“I would suggest doing some more analyzing on this stuff because it sounds like they’re talking about putting towers all over the place,” he said.

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