Verizon is back again, seeking city approval to build a cell tower on the Four Square Church property immediately adjacent to Porter Park. The tower would be 66 feet high on a 20-foot square footprint, with a 30-kilowatt diesel generator, all just steps away from home plate and the children’s play structure. The height is over twice that allowed on the Residential-3.5 zoned property. The minimal park-setback proposed in Verizon’s application — just 35 feet — is only feasible because current zoning treats Porter Park as Agriculture/Open Space.

Federal law mandates that communities find ways to accommodate cellular infrastructure. However, to bypass local development codes, Verizon must still show that: (1) there is a significant gap in coverage; (2) the proposed solution is the least intrusive on community values; and (3) there are no other feasible alternative locations that are less intrusive. It is arguable whether any of these conditions currently have been met. Corvallis residents value their parks, for example, and there likely are other commercial and industrial zoned locations near the area of deficient coverage that Verizon claims.

A 1998 Corvallis Land Development Code amendment for wireless telecommunications facilities is very clear in directing cellular service providers to “look at industrial areas” and “to keep telecommunication facilities away from residential and sensitive areas." We urge the city to follow their own policy regarding new cellular infrastructure and work with Verizon and other cellular service providers to find suitable locations for new infrastructure. We don’t believe such locations include parks and neighborhoods.

Jeff Kline

Corvallis (Jan. 5)

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