A conditional-use permit for the construction of a cell tower did not gain support from a majority of Shawnee Planning Commissioners Wednesday.
The proposed site is on the south section of 125 West 45th Street; Northside Veterinary Hospital sits on the north section of the property.
Assistant City Planner Joseph Barker said there were several conditions that needed to be met to obtain a permit for the 140-foot tower.
One issue the proposed monopole had was not quite enough required space in its radius, if it were to fall over. Applicant Troy Williams said the proposed tower was designed to collapse on itself.
Williams said older cities like Shawnee traditionally have smaller lots, making it difficult to find adequate space for such a project. He also said his first goal is to co-locate with an existing tower, but there isn't one in the service area in question.
He said the project is a $400,000 investment into the community.
Eight residents — two through letters to the planning office and six at the meeting — voiced opposition to the thought of allowing AT&T to place a cell tower in their neighborhood. Health, safety and aesthetics were cited among concerns, as well as the fear of declining property values.
In a letter, Linda White cited alleged health risks to those who live nearby cell towers; alleged negative effects on property values of homes near the tower; the tower not being aesthetically pleasing in the eyes of the property owner; and alleged possible interference with other personal electronic signals (televisions, computers, etc.).
The Housing Authority of the Sac and Fox Nation also submitted a letter of protest recommending the application be rejected, claiming that the cell tower would create safety issues for tenants located in the nearby neighborhood, would possibly effect property values in a negative manner, and that the tower would not benefit the neighborhood aesthetically, and possibly interfere with other personal electronic signals.
Property owners at the meeting shared many of the same concerns.
Regarding aesthetics, Williams said studies have shown property values have risen and the highest growth has occurred where the best coverage is.
Planning Commissioner Link Cowan said people in central Oklahoma are not like those in bigger cities.
He said here they are more concerned with how things appear outside their windows than how dependable things like coverage of local cell and internet service are.
The board voted 5-1-1 to deny the request; Planning Commissioner Tom Rowell abstained.
Planning Commissioner Daniel Matthews, the no vote, said he would have preferred it if the agenda item had instead been deferred.
The request will now go before Shawnee City Commissioners.
Watch for updates.