Congregational Church Seen as Option for SMHS Tower

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San Marino Congregational Church has emerged as a new option for the relocation of a cell tower on the grounds of San Marino High School, according to city Planning and Building Director Aldo Cervantes.
American Tower, which manages the tower for carriers Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, had originally sought to relocate it to the grounds of Tony’s Pizza at the corner of Huntington Drive and Winston Avenue. But that has proven to be problematic.
Tony’s Pizza did not want to lose a parking space for a monopole, Cervantes said. Putting the cell tower equipment on the roof of the building, or atop a carport built over a parking space, was considered, but both options were thought to be potential eyesores by the city.
That’s when Cervantes suggested that American Tower simply look across the street to 2560 Huntington Drive. “The church is in a C-1 zone,” he said, meaning the land is zoned for commercial uses. “It’s a bigger property. It’s a bigger parking lot. Adjacent to the church is a wash. It puts the tower farther away from residential property.”
Not to mention classrooms and students walking to and from school.
The San Marino Unified School District has been trying for a couple of years to relocate the tower, which was built without permits and without approvals by the Division of the State Architect. Studies have since shown that the tower, which stands in the northwest corner of the campus, near athletic facilities, is squarely astride the Raymond earthquake fault.
As for a similarly controversial cell tower that stands on district property behind Huntington Middle School, American Tower continues to explore the prospect of relocating it to the grounds of the Colonial Kitchen restaurant a short distance to the west on Huntington Drive, Cervantes said.
The city had previously proposed that both facilities be relocated to a single pole in the parking lot behind City Hall, which is roughly equidistant between the two school sites. American Tower told the city this wouldn’t be feasible, because it would create a gap in coverage for T-Mobile customers who rely on the high school tower.
Concurrent with these negotiations, the city has begun efforts to draft a cell tower ordinance for San Marino. It would specify where cell towers could and could not be built — specifying, for example, certain distances from schools.

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