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Planning commission approves cell tower

Land use — Opponents unsuccessful in stopping construction of structure on Hancock Street

By Casey Taylor, Newberg Graphic intern

The Newberg planning commission has approved a variance that will allow ProLand (representing Verizon) to install a 70-foot cell phone tower on 2401 E. Hancock St.

The variance request was filed due to the proposed tower’s proximity to a building on the property. Newberg’s development code states that a cell tower should be at least 21 feet away from nearby buildings; the location of the proposed tower would put it 9.5 feet away from a building. The commission saw no issue with granting the variance as the property owners had agreed to the location of the tower with ProLand prior to filing the variance request.

Fred Casey, an adjacent property owner on the proposed tower’s west side, raised concerns about the Oregon Department of Aviation’s initial opinion that the tower would interfere with nearby Sportsman Airpark’s flight traffic. The ODA assumed that the proposed tower would be 100 feet tall, however, and saw no issue with a 70 foot tower near the runway.

Casey also wanted the council to consider the health effects of the radio fields (RF) emitted from the cell tower, but the commission was forbidden from considering RF fields when making their decision because the Federal Communication Commission establishes acceptable RF field exposure levels that cannot be contested by local governments.

Attorney Mike Connors of Hathaway Koback Connors spoke on behalf of ProLand and said that the proposed location was the best place for a new tower due to the area’s industrial zoning, and that the proposed tower’s radiation levels would total 5 percent of the FCC’s allowable public exposure limits.

“Part of the confusion (is) people have the perception that (the radiation is) projecting down, but it’s not. It’s actually projecting horizontally. If you’re on the ground those emissions are going over your head,” Connors said.