Apr 142011

Although there are no applications for a new cell phone transmission tower, and nobody knows of any company that might even want to build another one in Waldport, the Waldport City Council found itself all wrapped around the issue and tangled up with the town planning commission, several members of which were in the audience.

Three members of the planning commission said they, and others who testified at their public hearing, didn’t want new cell phone towers erected in Waldport’s quiet, picturesque residential areas. One commissioner said, “tourists don’t come to Waldport to stare at cell phone towers.” However, City Councilor Mark Campbell said he’s loathe to tell someone what he or she can or can’t do with their property. “If they want to make a few bucks having a cell phone tower on their property, who am I to tell them no,” he said. That prompted a stern response. A resident told Campbell that he’s only looking at one side of the argument. He asked “what about the property rights of neighbors who would see their property values drop and their view trashed because somebody planted a 200 foot piece of steel within eyeshot of a hundred homes? What about their property rights?”

From there the discussion again touched on the fact that no cell tower applications are being filed. Then the debate explored where cell towers are usually placed and why; mainly on hill or mountain tops and within line of sight of areas not yet served with cell service. Councilors remarked that the last cell tower erected in Waldport was out by the golf course, put there by AT&T. They said AT&T is bound by federal law to allow any other cell phone company to put their antennas on AT&T’s tower under the mandate of “co-location,” this in an effort to prevent a forest of individual towers going up across the country.

When the conversation came back around to whether the city council would allow cell towers in residential areas the council decided, on a 5-2 vote, (with Mayor Woodruff and Councilor Brown voting no) that they will be allowed but that they first have to satisfy 14 strict conditions. ‘Proof of need’ is one of them. If a pre-existing cell tower still has room for more antennas on it, the council could turn them down. And that’s just for openers. By the way, one resident testified that Waldport may never see another cell tower application. He said cell phone companies will increasingly use ground-level “relay boxes” on street lamps, sides of buildings and street lights making hilltop cell towers obsolete.

Few minds were changed but that’s where they left it.

The council then turned their attention to the idea of allowing yard chickens within Waldport city limits. Under Waldport city code, it’s illegal to have any farm livestock inside the city. However, in this era of rediscovering self-sufficiency and sustainability, the issue has been raised and the council decided to talk about it. A couple of residents testified that chickens greatly complement garden plots because they keep the slugs down. Others said REALLY fresh eggs are a delight and owners get ’em for chicken feed.

The council was told that hens are allowed in most Lincoln County towns but not roosters. The council referred the item to the city planning commission to see how they feel about chickens living in town.

The city council meeting soon came to a close but not before City Manager Nancy Leonard announced that Waldport’s Centennial celebration will involve a street parade which will shut down Highway 101 through town. Detours are being worked out. Leonard also said Oregon Representative Jean Cowan is looking into a way for state government to provide funds for tsunami sirens up and down populated areas of Oregon’s 360 miles of coastline. Local communities would have to come up with some of the money. And Councilor Mark Campbell reported that the Waldport Chamber of Commerce is officially taking over the annual 4th of July Fireworks. Campbell said the chamber is raising money in earnest toward this summer’s display, and that all donations are gratefully accepted.

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