PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County Planning Commission is looking at changes to cellphone tower requirements, but the commission first wants to hear from a telecommunications expert before recommending more restrictions.
The commission on Wednesday looked at height restrictions, where towers should be placed and whether they should be camouflaged, all questions that multiple members of the commission said they didn’t know how to answer.
Planning Commission members looking at height and distance restrictions said they want to know more about how the cellphone towers work before making any recommendations.
“It would behoove us to hear from some industry looking into the future,” said Connie Beauvais, member of the Planning Commission. “I don’t feel qualified to answer these questions.”
Department of Community Development Director Mary Ellen Winborn said the discussion is in response to a cell tower at 766 Brigadoon Blvd.
Homeowners in the area launched a lawsuit against Radio Pacific Inc. over the 150-foot cell tower, which was settled last month.
The homeowners’ original intent was to prevent the wireless communication facility from going up in their neighborhood. However, Attorney Gerald Steel for the homeowners said the parties signed a settlement agreement last week to go their own ways with all challenges against the tower withdrawn.
The discussion Wednesday was to find a balance between the community’s concerns for aesthetics and location of wireless communications.
The Planning commission was asked to look at height restrictions in different types of areas, including resources and public zones; rural zones; urban zones and commercial and industrial zones.
Currently towers are allowed to be 200 feet tall in resource zones, 150 feet tall in rural zones and 100 feet tall in all other zones except urban commercial and industrial zones, which are limited to 85 feet.
“When I see an 85-foot height limit in an industrial zone, but yet I can go in a rural zone and have a 150 foot height limit, I question preferences,” said Kevin LoPiccolo, principal planner for the county. “Should an industrial zone have less restriction than a neighborhood area?”
LoPiccolo said he was not asking to decrease height limitations, but wanted to focus on whether towers in commercial and industrial zones should be able to be taller.
“I would say the commercial and industrial zone should be higher,” said Planning Commission Member Nancy Esteb, adding that she wants to protect residential areas.
The Planning Commission also discussed rules that prohibit towers from being placed within 1,000 feet of U.S. Highway 101 and state Highway 112. They are also required to be 1,000 feet away from schools and parks.
“I don’t understand the need for such a long distance from 101 or 112,” Esteb said.
LoPiccolo said he would rather have towers closer to the highway than being placed farther away.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].