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Parks cell antennas go to voters

City Council says Measure C mandates the voters decide whether to spend more than $100,000 on two antennas.

July 21, 2010|By Michael Miller

At a special meeting Tuesday night, the council voted to put an item on the November ballot asking voters whether the city should permit the installation of two mobile phone antennas at Harbour View and Bolsa View parks.

The motion passed, 4 to 2, with Councilmen Devin Dwyer and Don Hansen voting against and Gil Coerper absent.

The council approved license agreements in January 2009 for T-Mobile to install antennas at the two parks; but when it learned that construction costs exceeded $100,000, it insisted that voters needed to approve the projects. Measure C, which is part of the City Charter, requires voter approval for any construction project costing more than $100,000 in a city-owned park or beach. T-Mobile then sued the city, claiming that using the measure to rule on antenna installation violated the Federal Telecommunications Act, which requires that decisions on installation be made promptly.

In July, a judge ruled that Measure C violated the federal act and gave the council until Sept. 7 to either grant the permits to T-Mobile or deny them for a reason permitted by the act. If the city denies the antennas, T-Mobile has 10 court days to challenge the decision, according to city documents. If the court denies T-Mobile's motion, a trial will be set for Nov. 9.

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City Atty. Jennifer McGrath said that if voters reject the antennas in the Nov. 2 election, it will give the city an advantage in its case against T-Mobile.

The council also voted Tuesday to place an item on the ballot that would ban the construction of all antennas citywide if they cost more than $100,000 and resided within 500 feet of schools, but the motion failed, 3 to 3.

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