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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 28, 2011 6:48 AM. The previous post in this blog was Digging in the dirt. The next post in this blog is Shake me, wake me. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cell Tower Flap o' the Week: 69th and Foster

All sorts of e-mail comes in over our transom. Here's a message from an outraged neighbor down in southeast Portland:

I and my neighbors are working hard to oppose the placement of a new 45-foot Verizon Wireless cell phone tower on the property of Mt. Scott Fuel Co., 6904 SE Foster Road. The City of Portland will hold a formal hearing on this matter on October 3 at 9:00 am at 1221 SW 4th Ave, Suite 3000.

This proposal is widely opposed by neighbors for numerous reasons detailed below. We will make our voices heard at the hearing and appeal to the hearings officer to consider several critical flaws in Verizon’s application and the city’s tentative preliminary recommendation to allow construction of this facility.

As recommended by the city, the proposal is nothing short of a giveaway by the city to a mega corporation and an absentee landlord who has zero interest in being a good neighbor or contributing to the common good in our area. We feel as neighbors that Verizon and Mt. Scott fuel are betting they can make a fast buck because those who surround this facility lack the resources and organization to oppose this. They are wrong.

Summary of concerns:

This proposal doesn’t live up to the city code.

Verizon is requesting to place a tower within 2000 feet of an existing tower. In a case such as this, the applicant bears the burden of proof to demonstrate that this is the "only feasible site" to provide service.

Federal criteria regulate RF emissions from cell towers such as this. Verizon’s health and safety justifications are dubious, citing only its own engineering staff, who clearly have a conflict in objectively evaluating these factors.

The city was wrong to deem a four-story cell tower in keeping with the "desired character" of our neighborhood, using a nearly 20-year-old neighborhood plan as justification. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Foster Road is a key transportation corridor and this site is within an Urban Renewal Area. Placing a four-story cell phone tower effectively prohibits any higher or better future use of not just this site, but those around it.

A noisy industrial site surrounded by barbed wire, guarded by vicious dogs and spewing dust most hours of the day isn’t the best neighbor to begin with. This proposal greatly worsens matters.

The Mt. Scott Fuel property is already a non-conforming use and a non-conforming development. Adding a cell tower to this property will clearly take it further from the desirable direction for the area.

This proposal conflicts with the vision expressed by the City in documents and processes related to the local Urban Renewal Area, the Foster Road Transportation & Streetscape Plan and the Mt. Scott Arleta Neighborhood Plan.

This proposed tower does not align with or advance the city’s (and our) vision and development direction for our neighborhood. This proposal is wrong and should be stopped.

We know for sure that the city won't listen to safety concerns -- they'll tell you they're precluded from doing so by federal law. As for the rest, we wish the neighbors luck. But once a site gets dedicated to a neighbor-unfriendly use, things don't usually get better -- they usually slide down a slope in the other direction.

Comments (17)

I am reading this with my mobile device, but it is OK, because I have programmed it to only use the "good" cell towers!

Mt. Scott Fuel Company has been on that site forever. That area was always a mixed use and light industrial area. The fight really isn’t really about a cell tower. It is about gentrification of the neighborhood. Things always change over time and even a cell tower isn’t for ever. I just wonder though if we boot out all of our industrial sites in this city, just like the fight over ESCO in NW Portland, where are any jobs going to come from. I personally use Mt. Scott Fuel to get my firewood. It is close, convenient and their prices are fair. I sure would hate to drive out to Sandy or Mollala to get a few sticks of firewood for my fireplace.

I live in the neighborhood and I can tell you that while Mt Scott Fuel is nice to have around, they don't do anything to make their site nice nor clean.

The issue here is that they want the neighborhood to grant them permission to disregard a city law requiring cell towers be at least 2000 feet apart. In this case the towers would be 1600 feet apart. Why do we in the foster neighborhood have to give Verizon a break? I have verizon and my cell phone works fine.

Public = shut up and pay your taxes

Private = scratch my back, I'll scratch yours

It could be worse....they could build the new immigration jail there. Or a ten story tower of condos nobody wants to live in, with a Whole Foods on the first floor.
Or a Walmart!

Jon - I'd rather have any of those things! All of those examples would generate jobs in the neighborhood, and bring people in from other neighborhoods. A cell tower seems like 'dead' land.

John Benton - I'm all for having light industrial sites in the neighborhood. But no one works at a cell phone tower! Sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder that you tried to shoehorn into this article?

On the other hand, I don't much care that there's a 400-foot variance, and I don't like the idea of telling these folks what they can and can't do with their land. And maybe I'll get faster download speeds out of it! I just wish they could have put the tower on the roof of some retail building - so that folks could get some USE out of the land, too.

That section of Foster is a dump. Been that way for nearly a quarter century (or more). The tower would probably be the only thing with a fresh coat of paint. Moreover, the fuel company is a quiet outfit that brings people into the neighborhood.

Fer pete's sake, everyone likes a cell phone but resists the infrastructure.Grow up.

The harassment of ESCO is nuts. Guy that runs that NW paper is evil. Let people live and get a living.

I found a form on the Verizon website to submit properties for consideration, and just sent in my own. I've got a big, flat, commercial roof exactly 1 mile away from that site, on Foster, and it seems to meet their criteria. No one is going to use my roof for anything else, so why not let the land at Mt. Scott go towards something more important? Tell them to switch to me!

"I've just heard that you have already begun the permitting process to install a tower on bare land at SE 69th and Foster, on the Mt. Scott Fuel Company lot. That site is less than 2,000 feet away from an existing tower, so it requires a variance from the city. And the neighborhood is gearing up to fight the installation - see blog posts here, and elsewhere. The neighborhood council wants something built on that land that will generate jobs.

I own a building that's exactly 1.0 mile away from that site. It's a tall two-story four-plex, and the property is zoned CG commercial and I've confirmed in person with the city planning office that I'm allowed to move in retail and even light manufacturing. It has a broad flat roof, with nothing on it, is taller than all the surrounding buildings, and is located on a busy intersection - on the same busy street as the Mt. Scott Fuel location. The nearest cellphone tower is 2,000 feet away, owned by T-mobile - so my site would NOT require a zoning waiver from the city.

If my site makes sense, switch to me! It would keep the neighborhood happy, you wouldn't need a waiver, and it'd let someone build something else on that Mt. Scott land. No one is going to open a store on my roof - so it just seems like a more efficient use of space!"

Oh no! The scenic view of the Dollar Tree parking lot will be ruined forever if they put up that cell phone tower. Better make that section of Foster a historic district to protect the history of low-rent markets and light industrial sites.

Why is it seen as a negative thing when the residents of the Foster Neighborhood work to make their community nicer? Is this gentrification? I feel like we are a working class neighborhood that hopes to have businesses besides the Dollar Tree and Saved A Lot to shop at. I'm not sure what the point of Tomas' comment is?

Tomas - would you want this on the nearest arterial street to your home? Just sayin'

With all the vacant, weed-filled lots in my neighborhood, a celltower would actually be an aesthetic improvement. If I owned a house with the space I'd put one in my front yard--make a nice little profit and have great cell service. Winning!

Are we seeing these small "antenna cubes" deployed anywhere yet?

Cell tower = bad.

But, the big tall PGE transmission line that runs just to the east of the Mt. Scott Fuel Company property, along 70th Avenue, isn't?

Or, the PGE transmission line directly to the west along 67th Avenue?

I fail to see why the cell tower is so bad, when there are already NUMEROUS tall pole structures in the exact same neighborhood, that have EMF exposure concerns, and yet they have been in existence for years and years.

(BTW, although I live in Tigard, I have TWO cell towers located 1,060 feet from my front door. And a PGE transmission line 600 feet from my front door.)

"Oh no! The scenic view of the Dollar Tree parking lot will be ruined forever if they put up that cell phone tower. Better make that section of Foster a historic district to protect the history of low-rent markets and light industrial sites."

Don't forget the old "historic" Phoenix Pharmacy building that has a big "U" painted on it. The "U" means that the fire dept. is just supposed to let it burn if it catches fire.

Mt. Scott Fuel has been there forever, and they keep things pretty neat and tidy around there...keeping in mind that they sell bark dust and firewood, etc. A cell tower in the middle of it would barely merit a second glance.


Please message me with your contact information and proposed site address if you are indeed serious. We will be speaking at the hearing tomorrow and submitting written comments. We will raise the option of your site for verizon to investigate in all seriousness and you could make tons of money if you are selected.


If all of the NIMBY's would throw away their cell phones there wouldnt need to be anymore cell towers built. From what I understand they have to add towers due to the smart phones using so much band width. Internet and texting is what is driving these new towers. If you dont like them then get your land line back and stop using your cell phone.


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