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Gopher Canyon Court wireless facility approved

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a Major Use Permit for a wireless communications facility in the 2800 block of Gopher Canyon Court.

The supervisors’ 4-0 vote September 24, with Pam Slater-Price in Washington, approved the permit to construct a false chimney on top of a proposed garage. The garage and chimney will have a total height of 20 feet and the equipment will be housed within the garage in an equipment room measuring 10 feet by 16 feet.

“This is about as good as it gets,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said of the design blending into the surrounding neighborhood. “I think that this particular project should stand up as an example for others to follow.”

Three panel antennas will be attached to the false chimney, which will match the design of the garage building. The garage and chimney will be located west of an existing single-family residence on the one-acre site, and the facility will be approximately 500 feet from Gopher Canyon Road and accessible by a paved driveway 16 feet wide.

Mature citrus and eucalyptus trees on the western portion of the property will obstruct the view from the residences to the west, which are the closest homes to the telecommunications site.

“This appears to be one of the most unobtrusive examples of where a cellular facility can go,” said attorney William Schwartz, who represented T-Mobile.

The county’s Planning Commission made findings of compatibility with community character when it approved the Major Use Permit on June 13, but neighbor Deborah Hanyak appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors. The Hanyak family has lived at their residence for the past 28 years.

“It’s not consistent with the Zoning Ordinance or state law,” said Mike Gibbs, who represented Hanyak at the Board of Supervisors hearing.

The property on which the facility will be located is zoned A70, or limited agriculture. Although properties with agricultural and residential zoning are not considered preferred locations for wireless communications facilities, no preferred zones exist in the service area which would meet the coverage objective.

Preferred zones include parcels with commercial and industrial zoning and some special purpose zoning, and preferred locations include existing structures such as water tanks, utility towers and poles, traffic lights, certain street lights, commercial and industrial buildings, government facilities, or co-located towers.

“The entire area is A70, so any other property we pick is going to be in the same situation as this one,” said Ted Marioncelli, who represented T-Mobile.

In August 2006 the Bonsall Sponsor Group, which has submitted a proposed wireless facilities master plan to the county, voted to recommend approval of the project without conditions.

“I don’t see a tower in this map. I have to give credit to T-Mobile or whoever came up with this. There is not even a palm tree,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “This is one of the better ones I have seen.”

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