Planning Commission OKs wireless communication facility at Camelback Golf Course

Paradise Valley Town Hall is at 6401 E. Lincoln Drive in the Town of Paradise Valley. (File photo)

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission has approved the addition of a wireless communication facility to the clubhouse rooftop at Camelback Golf Course during its Tuesday, Dec. 20 meeting at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission is a seven-member body that provides recommendations to Paradise Valley Town Council on matters of zoning. Town council has the final say on all zoning matters.

The Commission recommended approval of a conditional use permit that would allow Verizon Wireless to place three sets of antennas on the clubhouse, concealing them in new parapets and a faux chimney with fiberglass panels that will be designed to blend in with the building.

Specifically, there will be two antennas on the north portion of the roof as the alpha sector, two on the west portion of the roof as the beta sector and two on the south portion of the roof as the gamma sector.

Any new equipment will be placed inside the building.

The alpha sector would be 267 feet from the west residence, the beta sector would be 183 feet from the east residence and the gamma sector is slated to be 188 feet from the west residence, according to a staff presentation.

According to a town resolution from 1998, the golf course is eligible for a facility such as this. However, facilities such as these need to be about 200 feet away from residential dwellings, which some of the proposed antennas are not.

The Commission can provide a recommendation to town council to adjust these regulations to allow for the facility to move forward as planned.

The goal of the new facility is to improve cell phone coverage for Verizon customers in the area, which currently is poor in surrounding areas.

These antennas would only serve Verizon customers but other network providers do have the option to occupy the roof if the Commission were to approve.

Town staff also anticipates the impact to the community to be limited to minimal visual impacts, according to the staff presentation.

This topic was originally discussed at the Commission’s Dec. 6 meeting and at that time, the Commission requested more information regarding a more specific breakdown of the radio-frequency emissions.
FCC regulations dictate the occupational maximum permissible exposure to be below 5 percent for surrounding areas open to the general public.

The Commission also wanted signage for those areas that were not safe for the general public to enter.
During the Dec. 20 meeting, town staff presented a more detailed breakdown of the occupational maximum permissible exposure for the ground level and on the roof. Additionally, staff presented the applicant’s planned signage for those areas of high MPE.

The presentation showed the ground level of the clubhouse and surrounding areas all remained under the FCC limit and most of the roof. In areas close to the antennas, the occupational MPE would reach above 100 percent and decrease the further away someone went from the antennas.

Those areas of high MPE are planned to be quarantined with appropriate signage and only authorized personnel can enter into those areas.

“I wanted to know how safe is safe?” Planning Commission Chairman Dolf Strom said during the Dec. 20 meeting. “With numbers that low, I’m OK with it.”

There was no public comment on the matter during the meeting. Two nearby residents did request more information prior to Dec. 6 but never voiced support or disapproval.

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