The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday denied T-Mobile's appeal for a permit to build a nine-antenna tower on the roof of a Windsor Hills drug store -- something residents fought against.
The cellular telephone service provider's asked for a permit in January 2007 and was met with vocal opposition from activists citing health concerns, calling the project an eyesore and arguing that adequate service existed in the area.
The Regional Planning Commission originally approved the permit for the roof of a CVS Pharmacy at 4501 W. Slauson Ave. Then, in February, the commisison reversed its decision in a split vote. T-Mobile appealed the decision, resulting in Tuesday's hearing.
"We're just here trying to provide cell service to the community," Joe Thompson of T-Mobile said.
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T-Mobile lawyer John Flynn told the supervisors:
"I've been all over the state representing T-Mobile and other wireless service providers ... and I know that the task that you face this morning is not an easy one. Even when a service provider has a need that has got to be filled ... and we've chosen the least intrusive means to do it ... you'll still get an intensely emotional response to these cell sites."
"You've got some voters on the one hand. You've got a corporation on the other hand, but it's not just a corporation. We've got customers who have coverage needs. We've got to satisfy those," Flynn said.
But area residents were prepared for a fight, having circulated petitions, attended earlier hearings, developed research and picketed the site in months past.
"It is unacceptable for (T-Mobile) to turn a major entrance into our community into an eyesore," said Sheila Smith, a local resident.
The residents seemed to have done their homework and focused on existing legal agreements with the owner of the site related to its aesthetics. Other opponents argued that T-Mobile submitted
misleading evidence to the planning commission to minimize the tower's impact and maximize the company's case for expanded coverage.
The activists drew a distinction between Verizon and AT&T, which offers land lines, and T-Mobile's promotion of cell-only service.
T-Mobile's "commercial shows a woman cutting down telephone phones ... but doesn't show the cell towers that will replace them," Elise Kalfayan said.
Health concerns and lower property values as a result of the proposed tower were also cited.
Ultimately, the board, urged by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to end the debate and apparently swayed by the community's concerns, denied the appeal.