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Cell Phone Tower Proposed For Lafayette Church

The 16-foot-high wireless communications facility would be built in a back corner of the parking lot at St. Perpetua Church

St. Perpetua Church in Lafayette
St. Perpetua Church in Lafayette
If the plans are approved early next year, a 16-foot-high cell phone tower will be built on the grounds of St. Perpetua Church in Lafayette.

The current plans call for the tower to be concealed inside a cupola on top of the former convent building in the southeast corner of the church's parking lot.

The tower would contain six panel antennas, 10 remote radio units and two surge suppression units. There would also be a 120-square-foot equipment enclosure structure.

The facility would be operated by AT&T Wireless, which would pay the church an undisclosed monthly fee for having the facility on its property.

The proposal is on the Design Review Commission's agenda for Monday night, but Lafayette Senior Planner Lindy Chan said the item will be moved to the commission's Jan. 13 meeting at AT&T Wireless' request.

If the design review board approves the plans, the matter would go to the Planning Commission in February for final approval.

Applications for wireless communication facilities are somewhat common these days in Lafayette as the demand grows for coverage for cell phones and other mobile devices.

Chan said there have been 12 applications in the city in 2013. Some are smaller than the St. Perpetua proposal and others are additions to existing facilities.

Lafayette Associate Planner Michael Cass said there are 22 such facilities in the city now. Their sizes vary depending on the topography.

There are six of them along the Mt. Diablo Boulevard corridor. Two others are in the Happy Valley Road region. Another is situated along El Nido Ranch Road.

There's one near Moraga Road and Glenside Drive with another on the hill above.

There's four in the hills above the Burton Valley region and there are four others in the hills surrounding Acalanes High School.

The final three are in the Reliez Valley Road corridor.

Alexandra Krasov, a public affairs manager for AT&T, said the facility at St. Perpetua would be a "stealth wireless facilty" that would blend in with the surrounding community.

She said the facility is needed to fill a coverage gap and upgrade wireless service along Moraga Road and St. Mary's Road.

She said the St. Perpetua tower would provide good coverage and fit in with the surrounding neighborhood.

Krasov said the company is still working on the design of the facility to address concerns expressed by design review commissioners at previous meetings.

Father John Kasper of St. Perpetua Church said the wireless communication facility is a benefit to the surrounding community.

"In our technological age, providing an opportunity for greater communications coverage in our geographic area is a public service which the church can offer. Individual residences do not have the facility to do this," said Kasper. "The purpose of the church is to be of service to people and communities. St. Perpetua Church has been doing that for over 60 years in the Lamorinda area."

He said the facility would also provides funds that the church can use for the programs and services it provides.

Kasper added studies have shown the communication facilities do not pose a health hazard to nearby residents.

He pointed to a Federal Communication Commission report that stated: “Radio frequency emissions from antennas used for cellular and PCS [personal communications service] transmissions result in exposure levels on the ground that are typically thousands of times below safety limits."

"If there were a concern about public safety we would not agree to it," said Kasper.

Judy December 09, 2013 at 12:45 PM
These cell towers are very unhealthy for us, but until the public understands that and says "no more," they will go up all around us. Our gadgets are more important to us over our health. Everyone is trying to figure out why there is so much cancer in our area. Really?
Joe December 09, 2013 at 05:09 PM
Respectfully, cellular phone towers are not dangerous. That is a scientific fact. Right now as you read this much stronger radio signals are passing through your body than those that will ever be emitted from these facilities. If there is any reasonably scientific proof that they are dangerous, I haven't seen it. These are relatively low-powered transmitters. Once people move beyond the myths and become educated on the subject, those fears are usually eliminated. It is important for the local communities to allow (and I think require), well-planned and aesthetically unobtrusive expansion of these facilities as the services they provide are essential, and not having data or voice service in your own home is not pleasant in this day and age. I personally have passed on living in places without reliable service as I depend on it for work, and it's my exclusive access to 911 and the telephone in general.
Valerie Sloven December 09, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Well said Joe, I'm with you.

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