Village News Reporter
The Major Use Permit for a wireless communications facility at the Fallbrook Sports Park has been renewed.
The county’s Planning Commission has the authority to approve a Major Use Permit in the absence of a rezone or general plan amendment, and a 4-0 Planning Commission vote April 14, with Yolanda Calvo, Ginger Hitzke, and David Pallenger absent, approved the new permit for the sports park which is in the 2500 block of Olive Hill Road. The new Major Use Permit will expire on April 14, 2038.
Fallbrook Community Airpark totals approximately 290 acres. The aviation usage includes aircraft storage, maintenance, parts, supplies, repairs, and flight training services as well as runway operations and a helipad for emergency helicopter operations. The non-aviation uses provide a buffer between the airport and residences, and they also provide the county with revenue from leases.
Fallbrook Sports Park, Ingold Field, and the Fallbrook Tennis Club are on airport land, and nurseries and other users also hold leases on the property. The original Major Use Permit for Fallbrook Community Airpark was approved in October 1963 by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, and modifications to that permit were subsequently approved.
The Fallbrook Sports Park was approved by the Planning Commission in January 1995, allowing for a community sports park complex consisting of three baseball diamonds, four lighted volleyball courts, a two-story concession building, restroom facilities, an entry kiosk, a three-station batting cage, a caretaker residence, a maintenance and storage yard, and parking spaces for 250 vehicles.
In January 2007, the Planning Commission voted 6-0, with one member absent, to authorize two structures and an antenna configuration for a T‑Mobile wireless telecommunications facility. An existing 70 foot high light tower was replaced with a 75 foot high light tower, and 12 antennas were erected.
An equipment shelter was also built at the sports park to serve both T-Mobile and the sports park. The block equipment shelter is 44 feet 8 inches wide, 8 feet 8 inches deep, and 11 feet 6 inches high.
The Fallbrook Community Airpark land has A72 (General Agriculture) zoning and is thus outside the “preferred zone” locations, but there are no commercially zoned or industrially zoned locations which could serve the same coverage area and any nearby agriculturally-zoned site would require construction of a new free-standing structure to obtain the proper height for the antennas.
Sections 6985 and 6991 of the county’s Zoning Ordinance stipulate that permits for high-visibility wireless facilities in a residential or rural zone have a maximum term of 10 years for facilities valued between $10,000 and $500,000 and 15 years for facilities valued at $500,000 or more. The permit may be extended in the case of economic hardship or if no smaller or less visible technology to replace the facility is available or feasible.
The Major Use Permit for the wireless facility at the Fallbrook Sports Park expired on Jan. 26, 2022. If an application for a time extension is filed prior to its expiration, the owner is not in default if the extension is granted.
The design of the existing wireless telecommunication facility was found to utilize the most current technology, allowing it to be granted an additional 15 years of operation before it needs to be re-evaluated against the technology available in the future. In April 2022, the Fallbrook Community Planning Group recommended approval of the permit extension on a 12-0 vote with three members absent.
Crown Castle, which represented T-Mobile, submitted an addendum to the previously adopted environmental Mitigated Negative Declaration. The addendum noted that the project will not cause any significant impacts on the environment which would require mitigation measures not previously analyzed in the adopted MND.
The Planning Commission’s April 14 action adopted the environmental findings including a finding that the previously adopted MND is adequate with the addendum.
Any interior changes to approved telecommunications equipment located
entirely within an approved enclosed equipment shelter with equipment which cannot be seen by an adjacent residence, parcel, or roadway will not require a modification or minor deviation of the permit, although expansion of the existing equipment shelter or addition of noise-generating equipment would require either a modification or a deviation.
All graffiti on any components of the facility must be removed promptly in accordance with county regulations, and graffiti on any facility in the public right-of-way must be removed within 48 hours of notification. All wireless telecommunications sites including the antennas and cabinets must be kept clean and free of litter, display a legible operator’s contact number for reporting maintenance problems, and be secured to prohibit unauthorized access.
If the use is discontinued, it shall be considered abandoned 90 days following the final day of use and must be physically removed by the facility owner no more than 90 days following the final day of use or the determination that the facility has been abandoned. Any abandoned site shall be restored to its natural or former condition, although grading and landscaping in good condition may remain.