The Board of Zoning Appeals this afternoon approved an alternative solution for a proposed cell tower in the Muir Woods neighborhood after a vote was held over from the Oct. 6 meeting in order to allow residents to hire a radio frequency engineer to review AT&T’s site evaluation findings.
After the Mobile Planning Commission denied the application for the tower in January and a subsequent lawsuit, AT&T and the Muir Woods community, with the help of an engineering consultant, collaborated to reach an agreement agreed upon by all parties.
“I’m happy to report that we think we have come up with an alternative plan,” AT&T attorney Andrew Rotenstreich said.
Instead of placing a tower less than 200 feet from Muir Woods residents, he said the company will add to an existing tower behind the Publix located at Hillcrest and Cottage Hill. According to Rotenstreich, the extension will add 30 feet to the existing 150-foot tower.
“This is not the best solution, but it’s a solution we can live with,” Rotenstreich said.
A second part of the solution, which will be an additional tower extension on Knollwood Road, “may be sometime down the road” to successfully fill the gap in cell service coverage along Cottage Hill Road, he said.
Councilwoman Bess Rich spoke on behalf of the residents of Muir Woods, which is in her council District 6, and applauded the efforts of the neighborhood for hiring an expert consultant. However, she also pointed out the cell tower extension at Publix may not be ideal for the Inverness subdivision.
“The tower that they’re talking about extending, I realize, also backs up to Inverness and already has a major presence in their neighborhood,” she said. “I would hope that this board, when you’re looking at the variance, allows the opportunity for those neighbors to weigh in as well.”
Residents can appeal the board’s decision to the City Council within 15 days.
Furthermore, David Berthame, president of the Muir Woods Homeowner’s Association, does not anticipate objections from Inverness residents, as the tower extensions are the “least intrusive.”
“The extension should not cause any dismay,” he said.