Northwest NEWS

September 7, 1998

Local News

Planning Commission to look at cell tower regs

   by Woodinville Weekly staff
   WOODINVILLE--The Woodinville Planning Commission began looking at regulations for cell towers during their meeting Sept. 2.
   "At this point we're trying to get a feel for the issue's importance to the community through the commission," said Stephanie Cleveland, city planner.
   She said the impetus was more and more towers locating in the city, as well as a chance to bring up to speed laws on the city books since before the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Cleveland said the city adopted King County code that was "ripe" for updating.
   The commission can either recommend the City Council adopt a moratorium while new regs are worked on, or it could be made a priority and worked on without a moratorium, Cleveland said.
   She estimated there were between 10 and 15 cell towers and poles in the city.
   "Most of our neighbors have had a moratorium; it's made the City Council nervous. Are we getting more than our fair share?"
   Under the Telecommunications Act, cities have the authority to regulate wireless facilities through the zoning process. But cities can't create prohibitive zoning, are pre-empted from considering environmental and health effects of radio emissions and must act on permits within a reasonable time or issue written decisions if permits are denied.
   Commission recommends exempting single family from tree regs
   The commission also exempted existing single family residential homeowners from proposed new tree retention requirements during the same meeting.
   Previously, the Tree Board had recommended including such residences in new regulations which are designed to make preservation of trees a priority over mere replacement.
   But the idea had little support from the commission who voted 5-1 for the exemption.
   "The Planning Commission was concerned with overburdening individual property owners; that's why they made that change," said Stephanie Cleveland, city planner.
   As it stands, the commission recommended a number of changes in tree retention rules to the City Council. Under the proposal, developers of multi-family, commercial and industrial lots will have to present plans at the earliest stage of the permitting process on how they will replace "significant" trees if they can't preserve them.
   Significant trees would be all conifers and deciduous trees at least eight-inches in diameter, or just under five columns of newsprint in the Weekly wide.
   Cleveland said the point of the regs was to preserve trees that the community thinks important. Next step is City Council approval.