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Review committee recommends AT&T towers to be approved

By a unanimous vote, the proposal for larger wireless service antennas on Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church’s property now goes to the La Jolla Community Planning Association for consideration.
By a unanimous vote, the proposal for larger wireless service antennas on Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church’s property now goes to the La Jolla Community Planning Association for consideration.
James Palen

By a unanimous vote, the proposal for larger wireless service antennas on Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church’s property now goes to the La Jolla Community Planning Association

An AT&T Wireless proposal to replace three existing structures combining light poles and panel antennas on the property of Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church with larger equipment has received the approval of the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee (DPR).

Delayed a couple of weeks as AT&T worked to fulfill requests made by DPR at its Oct. 13 meeting, the unanimous decision at DPR’s Nov. 10 meeting paves the way for AT&T to present its proposal to the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) with a recommendation for approval. The item is planned to be on LJCPA’s Dec. 3 meeting agenda.

The proposed project would include three new 30-foot light poles with AT&T’s 10-foot panel antennas, and 24-inch radomes — weatherproof enclosures designed to protect and conceal microwave antennas. The site, which includes cell phone towers from four different service providers, is already home to AT&T’s three existing 24-foot light pole-antenna combinations. They include 6-foot panel antennas and 18-inch radomes. DePratti Inc.’s Caitlyn Kes, who has represented AT&T at the DPR meetings, has said the larger antennas would help AT&T keep up with a growing need for data transfer capabilities.

There were some concerns that DPR committee members wished for AT&T to resolve before receiving any recommendation on the project. One of those concerns, that the proposed project site had been discovered recently to be within a required setback — which would typically not allow for structures — was found to be a moot point. AT&T realized in the last few weeks that it was only an error in its site drawings that led to the belief the project would impose on a setback.

“The plan that we did the first time we submitted had the equipment enclosure, a little bit of it, onto the setback,” Kes said. “That was just an error in the drawings, and when we revised it — the third time we submitted it — it was recalculated, and it is outside of the setback, so we have always been outside the setback.”

Kes presented an e-mail from Karen Lynch, the San Diego city planner assigned to the project, showing the committee her recognition of the findings.

Separately, the DPR committee, at its Oct. 13 meeting, tied the AT&T proposal to a requirement that as a condition of its recommendation, AT&T must follow through on prior obligations related to another antenna project approved by the committee in 2012. That other project, involving an AT&T Wireless site within the public right-of-way at 9170 1/3 N. Torrey Pines Road, included a specific landscape plan that DPR determined had not yet been implemented.

AT&T has in the last month fulfilled the requirement, and planted a number of shrubs at the site, as confirmed in an e-mail from Lynch to DPR Chair Paul Benton.

“It actually got done,” Benton said. “The system works.”