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Planning Commission approves wireless communications facility permit for non-urban Valencia community

The city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday approved a Verizon Wireless plan to install a facility to help service in Saugus-Valencia area.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit for the service provider to construct, operate and maintain a wireless communications facility in a “non-urban 4 zone” of Valencia, located at the northwest corner of Copper Hill Drive and San Francisquito Canyon Road.

A non-urban 4 zone is a designation “for the maintenance and expansion of rural communities in the planning area that are distinguished by large lot sizes, agricultural and equestrian uses, and an absence of urban services,” according to Chapter 17.32 of the Santa Clarita Municipal Code.

The project is for six-panel antennas to be mounted to an existing Southern California Edison transmission tower, as well as a 248-square-foot equipment enclosure set with two equipment cabinets and an emergency generator.

Nearly 450 property owners reside within a 1,000-foot radius of the project site, and the nearest residential home is 290 feet from the facility, according to a city staff report. Some residents expressed concerns over potential health hazards, a common worry related to communications facilities installed near homes.

Area residents asked the city to ask that Verizon find “a more appropriate location for its tower that isn’t in such close proximity to residential homes,” according to nearby homeowner Tiffany Bloom, via a letter to city staff.

Another member of the community, who spoke at the Planning Commission meeting, said he would consider relocating because of health-related concerns due to the facility’s proximity to his home.  

These concerns and others relating to property values are common to service providers and city staffers. Just last month, commissioners heard from worried residents about a similar wireless project for AT&T.

Planning Commission Chair Renee Berlin said the city can only address locations, adding health hazard effects are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.

Mike Marshall, an associate planner with the city’s Planning Division, presented the Verizon project’s compliance with FCC’s regulations, as well as with aesthetics, screening, noise and design requirements. He added that this project is not “abnormally closer to residential units than what we’ve approved in the past.”

The agenda report further explained that “no potential hazard to the public’s health or safety would result from RF (radio frequency) emissions relative to the proposed WCF (wireless communications facility).”  

Resident Richard Maggio said he supported the project because his area of residence is “complete dead zone. You can’t dial 911 from your house. There’s no signal at all, and I’ve been trying for 20 years to get a cell tower up.”  

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