Verizon tower will stay 200 feet from nearest home

By Tim Howsare

October 18, 2011 - 10:00 pm
Councilmember Carl Diedrich, left, voted for moving the Verizon cell tower an extra 100 feet from the nearest home while Alan Marchione voted against it. Photo by Brian Jochumson.

The Maricopa City Council rejected an attempt by a group of Cobblestone Farms homeowners to move a proposed Verizon Wireless cell tower an additional 100 feet away from the nearest home.

“We ask this council that you do give us reconsideration because we think it would be appropriate,” said homeowner Penelope Thompson, whose house is the closest to the proposed tower. “We are not against the tower itself. We know communication is needed, but put it up 300 feet from the nearest house.”

The council approved at its Oct. 4 regular meeting a request by Shaw and Associates on a behalf of Verizon for a conditional use permit to build the tower within about 200 feet of the nearest home.

The request had been tabled at the three previous council meetings. Though Cobblestone residents expressed their opposition to the tower at those three meetings, no one at the Oct. 4 meeting spoke against the tower.

According to Shaw and Associates' proposal, the 54-foot tower will be located on land owned by farmer Troy Skousen. It will be disguised as a palm tree and buffered by three 40-foot live palms. Also, a 12-foot wall will be built around the tower’s base.

On Oct. 4, Shaw also presented an alternate proposal with the tower located nearly 300 feet from the nearest home. Councilmember Julia Gusse did not vote during that meeting, citing a possible conflict of interest because her husband works for Verizon, and Mayor Anthony Smith cast the only opposing vote.

Smith said in a phone interview he voted against the motion because he was in favor of the second proposal to move the tower an extra 100 feet from the nearest home. Smith said he had spoken with Skousen, who told him he was receiving revenue from Verizon to construct the tower on his property.

Skousen said tonight that moving the tower to conform to the second plan will take up three times more space and be a greater worksite hazard for farming equipment.

Cobblestone homeowner Anna Marie Knorr at tonight’s meeting said the Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended denying the request in July, and at that time Verizon and Skousen had refused to hear the concerns of homeowners. She emphasized Verizon had developed a second proposal to construct the tower 100 feet more away from home.

“They had already acknowledged they could do that,” she said.

The item to move the tower an extra 100 feet was brought back to tonight’s agenda by Councilmember Carl Diedrich, who voted in favor of the tower's 200-foot distance at the Oct. 4 meeting. According to city code, any councilmember who voted with the prevailing side may move that the council reconsider any council decision or action at the same or next meeting.

“I actually asked that it be reconsidered,” he said. “I was there with the homeowners and the representative from Verizon. There was not a guarantee but good faith effort on everybody's part.”

Although Diedrich and Smith voted favor of moving the tower, they were outnumbered by Councilmembers Alan Marchione, Marvin Brown and Marquisha Griffith.

Marchione said the concessions made by Verizon were fair, the property owner met the requirements and the palm trees were a good visual barrier.

Gusse did not vote and Vice Mayor Edward Farrell did not attend the meeting.

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