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For the week of April 18 through April 24, 2001

Bellevue wireless ordinance receives first public reaction

Express Staff Writer

The first public hearing on Bellevue’s proposed wireless communication facilities ordinance drew some thoughtful criticism from several audience members Thursday night.

The basic idea of the ordinance, city attorney Jim Phillips told the council, is to encourage wireless communication facilities (WCFs) to be placed in business and light industrial zones. Inside these zones, the ordinance would encourage WCFs to be placed on power poles or roofs.

WCFs have two basic components—an antenna and an electronics equipment box.

Rod Kegley told the council he thought it is a bad idea to encourage WCFs on power poles.

"If you allow this, that’s where all of them will be."

Kegley argued that power poles were ugly enough on their own, so why would the city encourage making them uglier, especially since the city might one day have the opportunity to get rid of its power poles?

"If you encourage placement of WCFs on power poles, how are you ever going to get them [Idaho Power] to bury their lines?"

His suggestion was to encourage wireless communication companies to place their antennas on top of roofs before power poles. Not only would the antennas be hidden but the boxes that inevitably came with each antenna could also be hidden.

Al Lindley, who told the council he works as a consultant for wireless communication companies, told the council he seconded Kegley’s criticism.

He told the council the visual impact of a monopole in the city’s light industrial zone could accommodate the needs of the eight wireless companies coming into Bellevue.

The single pole would also make less of a visual impact than eight different antennas on power poles with their eight different equipment boxes at the foot of the power pole.

John Campbell, a Hailey residents whose business is building multi-use wireless towers, reminded the council that it had once considered the rental income from WCFs attractive.

Campbell urged the council to balance the extent to which it protected the aesthetics of the city with the financial health of the city.

He said a 70-foot monopole could accommodate the antenna needs of the communication companies and not impact the aesthetics of the city as much as many smaller antennas placed in many locations about the city.

Mayor-elect John Barton responded to Campbell that the people of Bellevue had made it quite clear in planning and zoning discussions of WCFs that a monopole was unacceptable.

The city council moved to continue discussions on the ordinance. The next council meeting will be April 17 at 7 p.m.


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