Verizon Wireless seeks approval from the Danville Planning Commission on Tuesday night to build a new wireless communication facility disguised as a fake water tank on a hillside on the west side of Interstate 680.
The new tower, which aims to improve the company's coverage across parts of Danville, would consist of six antennas inside a 30-foot-tall faux water tank, plus ground-level equipment within a shelter designed to look like a barn, town principal planner David Crompton wrote in his staff report.
The project site, a five-acre parcel at 377 Elworthy Ranch Cir., was created when the Quail Ridge housing development at Elworthy Ranch was approved, Crompton said. Quail Ridge homes would be between the tower and the freeway, blocking it from view of I-680 drivers, Crompton said.
Verizon's proposal is consistent with all requirements of the town's wireless communication facilities ordinance, and a third-party radio frequency report determined the project complied with maximum allowable exposure limits regulated by the federal government, according to Crompton.
He noted that a "local jurisdiction cannot deny an application for a wireless communication facility based on perceived adverse health effects of radio frequency emissions."
Crompton said 11 sites in all were analyzed as potential homes for the new Verizon tower, but no feasible alternative existed to fill the significant gap in coverage cited by the company while still keeping with town officials' requirements and preferences on size and location.
"In summary, possible facilities located lower in elevation, along San Ramon Valley Boulevard or within the residential neighborhood on the east side of Hwy 680 would need to be taller in height, 50-80 feet, than the proposed facility, and would be more visible," he said.
Verizon's request for a land-use permit is the lone public hearing on the commission's agenda, set to get underway at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Town Meeting Hall at 201 Front St. in downtown Danville. Town planning staff recommends approval, according to Crompton.
The discussion comes about four months after Verizon lost a bid to add a single-antenna cell tower -- posing as a 60-foot-tall faux tree -- in a rural residential neighborhood on the east side of town.
The Danville Town Council overturned the Planning Commission's approval of that project on Lawrence Road after residents opposed the commissioners' decision and appealed to the council members, citing concerns such as height, aesthetics, noise and whether there was an actual service gap to necessitate that new cell tower.