Cell phone towers in disguise are proposed around SLO County

bcuddy@thetribunenews.comJanuary 2, 2013 

Fake barns and faux pine trees designed to provide aesthetically pleasing improved cell phone service will be popping up soon in San Luis Obispo County if a handful of applications for cell phone towers gain approval.

If the five proposed “unmanned wireless communications facilities” go forward, there will be approximately 225 such sites in those parts of the county that are outside city limits.

The projects are for T-Mobile and MetroPCS, two carriers that have limited service in the county, according to Airlin Singewald of the county Planning and Building Department.

“These new sites will certainly improve (or newly establish) cell service for T-Mobile and MetroPCS within the target coverage areas,” Singewald wrote in an email to The Tribune.

Three of the proposals will go before the Planning Commission at 9 a.m. Jan. 10 and two others will be heard at a 9 a.m. Jan. 4 Planning Department meeting, a venue created to handle proposals that the county says do not need a full commission hearing.

Planning Commission proposals will be heard at the County Government Center, 1055 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo:

  • Lime Mountain Co. and T-Mobile: 12 panel antennas 53 feet above grade and a 6-foot diameter microwave dish 20 feet above grade on a 61-foot faux pine tree at 16624 Chimney Rock Road, 20 miles southwest of Heritage Ranch.
  • Pacific Telephone & Telegraph and T-Mobile: 6 panel antennas mounted to the top of a 50-foot-high fake windmill on the west side of Soda Lake Road, 2.7 miles south of Highway 58 in California Valley.
  • Wendy Hall and T-Mobile West Corp. An 1,800-square foot, 35-foot two-story barn that would house antennas inside its cupola at 8125 Highway 41, eight miles east of Paso Robles and 2300 feet west of Straw Ridge Road.
Planning Department proposals also will be heard at the County Government Center:

  • Michael Savoldi and MetroPCS. Two faux pine trees, one 17 feet high, the other 19 feet high, with antennas and a microwave dish at an already existing site at 222 McMillian Canyon Road, north of Highway 46, two miles west of Shandon.
  • Janice Pankey and MetroPCS. Six 51-inch-tall panel antennas and one 26-inch microwave antenna on two 17-foot tall stub-mount poles, at an existing site at 4994 Indian Valley Road, roughly 3.5 miles north of San Miguel.
Why are there so many proposals coming up within a week of one another?

“There's nothing in particular going on here — just a glut of cell site projects going to hearing in the same month,” Singewald said.

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