Carson City Planning Commission approves downtown cell tower |

Carson City Planning Commission approves downtown cell tower

The Carson City Planning Commission approved a special use permit for a cell tower in downtown Carson City.

Verizon Wireless is building the telecommunications facility on leased property at the corner of Fall and 8th streets, behind the Plaza Hotel.

The tower must be permitted by the Federal Communications Commission and is subject to what is called a Section 106 review.

It’s also within line of sight of historic properties so the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has been asked to comment on it. SHPO is generally opposed to typical monopole towers so city staff worked with Verizon on a water tower design to essentially disguise the 67-foot tower.

Hope Sullivan, Carson City planning manager, told the commission Verizon looked for other locations but couldn’t find one.

Michelle Ellis, land use planning manager, Complete Wireless Consulting Inc., representing Verizon said she had talked to the state about placing a tower on one of several state buildings in the area, but was told the state will only enter into a 2-year lease, which was unacceptable to Verizon.

She also reached out to the owners of the Ormsby House but didn’t hear back from them.

The purpose of the tower is to provide more capacity and better service downtown and throughout the government buildings there.

Much of the commission’s discussion concerned the tower’s design.

At least one commissioner preferred a simple cell tower.

“I have a big problem with the appearance. I think a water tower looks ridiculous,” said Commissioner Daniel Salerno. “I’d rather see a monopole. We’re used to seeing those.”

But Ellis said SHPO wouldn’t approve a monopole.

Another water tower design, more rustic with faux wood and used by Verizon in California, was considered but the commissioners decided a more up to date design better suited downtown.

Dwight Millard, who owns the Plaza Hotel and three other nearby parcels, spoke during public comment to say he wasn’t opposed to placing a tower there but was opposed to the design.

He, too, wanted a simple monopole design or an underground facility and didn’t like the fencing.

“If you want to know if I’m against it, no, but I don’t like it the way it is. To me, it’s just the wrong design for that area. I’d rather a single pole with cells. Everyone knows what it is,” he said.

The commission approved the SUP using the modern water tower design and with some conditions, which included a seven-foot Trex fence, some landscaping and staff approval of the tower’s paint color.

Salerno was the sole no vote and Commissioner Walt Owens was not at the meeting.

The commission also approved the abandonment of a right-of-way.

The road, which was never constructed, is known as Hemlock Street.

It’s 60 feet wide and 509 feet long and will now become part of several surrounding properties.

The commission tabled an item changing municipal code to remove group homes and facilities from the definition of single-family dwelling because of a letter from a planning consultant raising some legal issues.

That item will be heard at the commission’s Feb. 22 meeting along with the first subdivision map for Lompa Ranch.