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Land use — Public comment period open on Verizon Wireless proposal to build in city of Newberg



Having trouble getting cell coverage between Newberg and Sherwood? Not for long, if a proposal to the city moves forward.

Verizon Wireless has submitted an application to construct a 70-foot monopole cell tower on East Hancock Street between Elliot Road and Sitka Avenue.

“The proposed location was chosen by Verizon Wireless to improve the quality of voice and data service as well as (9-1-1) services for its customers living and traveling on 99W between Newberg and Sherwood, as well (as) service quality at the Providence Newberg Medical Center,” wrote Verizon representative John Dassan to the city’s community development department. “The proposed site is a necessary communication facility as it provides the desired public service needed to complete the Verizon Wireless network in the area…”

It wouldn’t be the first cell tower inside city limits, but it could be one of the most visible. There are two cell towers at Newberg High School, however both are somewhat camouflaged. One at the football field, for instance, is also used as a light stand and therefore blends with surrounding light poles.

A cell tower on Alice Way is made of wood and blends somewhat with the surrounding trees.

The proposed new tower, though, is not likely to include camouflage elements, said City Planner Steve Olson. In fact, probably the opposite.

“Part of the reason is that it’s not that far from the airport,” he said. “Any time you have a tall cell tower it goes to the Oregon Department of Aviation and the (Federal Aviation Administration) for review.”

That means it could have requirements such as a flashing light or painted exterior for higher visibility. There are also height limitations for cell towers near airports, but Olson said this proposal appears to be within the height limits.

The tower is an allowed use within the property’s M-2 zoning, which permits light industrial and warehouse uses. This is the only zone in the city in which telecommunications facilities are allowed.

Radio towers are generally required to have a setback from existing buildings they will share the property with, but in this case the applicant is requesting a variance to be exempt from what would be a 21-foot setback from its neighboring buildings, instead being set back only 11.5 feet.

The 70-foot height was calculated as the minimum height necessary in order to provide reliable service in the targeted areas, according to the application.

This proposal is a Type 2 design review, meaning there will be notice to property owners within 500 feet of the site as well as a sign on the property announcing the plans. Public comments will be accepted by the community development department through June 10, following which department director Doug Rux will make a decision on the proposal. The issue will not go before the planning commission unless it is appealed.

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