A Appeal of the Denial by the Planning and Zoning Commission: of Conditional Use Permit PZ-18-0011-02 requested by Pinnacle Consulting on behalf of Verizon Wireless.         
  Mayor Evans opened the public hearing.
Planning Director Tiffany Antol provided a PowerPoint presentation that covered the following:
The applicant Michelle Lamaro provided a summary of the project.
Verizon Consulting Engineer Steve Kennedy continued the presentation.
Councilmember Whelan asked why additional antenna cannot be added to the existing tower. Mr. Kennedy stated that Verizon has utilized all the frequency bands available that they have licensed. Flagstaff is a large user of data and they have added all the channels available but there is no more bandwidth available. Adding a piece of hardware to an existing site does not add additional capacity. He offered the analogy that a new site is like a new street and more bandwidth is a new lane. They have added more lanes to all streets available and now it is time for a new street.
The following individuals addressed Council in opposition of the Conditional Use Permit:
  • Jennifer Flugstad
  • Robyn Zacharias
  • Donna Fosberg
  • Teresa Peterson
  • Anne Anders
  • Sue Worthington
  • Eric Kolvig
  • Ginger VanDiviek
  • Alan Bonner
  • Juliana Suby
  • Jackson Lander
  • McKenzie Bevirt
  • Lang Suby
  • Floyd Bradford
  • Margaret Gunderson
  • Hans Gunderson
  • Michael Yeatts
  • Nina Swidler
  • Robert Vane
  • Carrie Cowger
  • Janet Sliva
  • Carrie Warman
  • Brooks Hart
The following comments were received:
  • The tower could affect the research and wildlife in the area.
  • The location is a disfavored site.
  • Pinnacle Consulting has not proven that the location is not harmful to the health and welfare of the surrounding residents.
  • The Mount Elden area needs to be protected.
  • 5G and other technologies are not safe and they are harmful to all biological health.
  • Putting the tower here would set a bad precedent for Flagstaff and would devalue homes in the area.
  • There is not a need for a new tower because there are two other providers in town who are not asking for additional towers.
  • This is about money only, Trinity Heights has a significant financial benefit to place the tower on their property.
  • There are three pipelines that run through the area and disturbing the ground around them to place a tower would put people in the area at great risk.
  • Please uphold the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
  • If capacity is needed it should be done in an industrial area.
  • Do not set the precedent of allowing cell towers in undesirable areas.
  • Concerned about the visual aesthetic in a forested area.
  • Concerned about lighting strikes and the fire danger.
  • The land is a conservation zone and needs to be protected.
  • The applicant has failed to provide the need at the location and there are other locations available.
The following individuals spoke in favor of the Conditional Use Permit:
  • Tim Whiteside
  • Jennifer Spinti
The following comments were received:
  • The trustees for Trinity Heights, the congregation, and United Methodist are all in support of the tower in the proposed location.
  • The site is behind the church, east of Fourth Street and the height is similar to the adjacent pine trees, the church would block quite a bit of the view of the tower.
  • The tower would be on private property, not the National Forest.
  • Supportive of the tower so long as all necessary precautions are taken to protect the residents and follow all regulations set by the FCC.
  • Many have benefitted from having cell phone access in the forest for emergency situations.
Written comment cards in opposition of the Conditional Use Permit:
  • Margaret Gunderson
  • Hans Gunderson
  • Emily Eaves
  • Sallie Kladnik
  • Chris Eaves
  • Mike McMullen
  • Sharon Gunderson
  • Piero Desimone
A break was held from 7:53 p.m. through 8:05 p.m.
Ms. Lamora offered that the site is not considered a scenic area and it is not technically zoned as such. She also indicated that 5G will not be located at this site. Cell phone use is increasing as is demonstrated by the discontinued use of a land line for a home phone. They follow all guidelines set by the FCC and they have met all the requirements of the Conditional Use Permit.
Councilmember Whelan asked about the hardware on the existing tower and if it has been updated to its highest potential. Ms. Lamora stated that they did an upgrade around 2017 to the remote radio heads and antennas to improve and extend coverage but that the coverage area is shrinking in the area.
Councilmember Whelan asked about efforts to find other preferred sites. Ms. Lamora stated that engineers have looked at all the sites in the area and their capacity. They have determined that a new tower is needed and provided a search ring area to find a site. Unfortunately, in this area all the sites were disfavored, and the most favorable site for coverage was closer to residential units. The Trinity Heights location provides the furthest location to residential units. If there was a preferred site they would have gone there.
Vice Mayor Shimoni asked about the complaints made by Verizon customers about need in that area. Ms. Lamora indicated that carriers are required to meet certain objectives for their FCC licenses and once they start seeing their sites degrade, they have to find another site to meet their FCC requirements. Verizon has been working on this site for six years as coverage has begun to decline.
Vice Mayor Shimoni stated that he has been struggling to make the findings needed to approve the request. In terms of being a disfavorable site, even through you were not given favorable options, there was not enough work demonstrated to find an alternative site. His primary concerns are within Findings 1 and 2.
Councilmember McCarthy expressed that after considering all the information and hearing from the public he still has a lot of concerns. He does not believe that the findings for a new tower were demonstrated and he is likely to vote no on the appeal and support the Planning and Zoning Commission decision.
Councilmember Odegaards stated that he is not in favor of overturning PZ denial of this applicant for the same reasons the commission cited.
Councilmember Salas indicated that she could not make the findings to support an appeal primarily because the Conditional Use Permit is not objective with the Zoning Code and the purpose of the site where it is located. I could not find the finding that the proposed use is reasonably compatible with the surrounding area specifically for the impact on public facilities and that it will not disrupt existing utilities.
Councilmember Aslan stated that it seems clear that the need has not been demonstrated and other appropriate sites may be out there he will be upholding Planning and Zoning Commission’s earlier decision.
Councilmember Whelan indicated that she also could not make the findings and agrees with the determination of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Mayor Evans stated that she agrees with what the others have said and she feels that the application was incomplete and the applicant did not prove that they looked for alternative sites.
There being no further comments, Mayor Evans closed the public hearing.
  Moved by Vice Mayor Adam Shimoni, seconded by Councilmember Austin Aslan to deny the appeal because the Council cannot make the required findings under Disfavored Site Finding 1, New Tower Finding C, and Standard CUP Findings 1, 2B, 3C, D, E, F, and I uphold the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
  Moved by Councilmember Jamie Whelan, seconded by Councilmember Jim McCarthy to add New Tower Finding 1A and Disfavored Site Finding 2.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously