Revised AT&T Wireless Communications Facility Proposal for Witter Ranch Park

Faux Water Tank Photosimulation As Depicted from Chimney Rock WayOn February 22, 2013, as anticipated, AT&T submitted to the City of Sacramento its revised proposal for a wireless communications facility for Witter Ranch Park. The proposal submitted [PDF, 14 MB] includes zone diagrams, a set of photosimulations from four viewing perspectives in the neighborhood plus one from the Arena Blvd. overpass, and an Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) report. The intent of this article is to provide all of the latest information regarding this proposal as of the time of its writing, a summary of events that have occurred up to this point regarding the proposal, and what steps lie ahead.

Project History

In April 2011, WRCA’s board first became aware of AT&T’s desire to construct, operate, and maintain a wireless communications facility, a.k.a. “cell tower,” in Witter Ranch Park. WRCA’s board engaged active WRCA members, formally in WRCA General meetings and informally elsewhere — and based on those engagements and knowledge of historical issues at the park, feedback was offered to AT&T’s representatives regarding proposed design and placement of the project in a manner that prioritizes the enjoyment and safety of park patrons and community members residing closest to the park. A number of design ideas were offered to WRCA leadership and the one that seemed to show the greatest potential for community acceptance was a faux water tank that would not only pay tribute to the legacy of our historic Witter Ranch namesake but also would serve as a practical landmark to distinguish our neighborhood from others in the Natomas community.

In March 2012, WRCA hosted AT&T’s representative at a special community meeting held at Witter Ranch Elementary School where all of the details of the proposal were presented. Although WRCA leadership hand-delivered notices to hundreds of homes nearest the park and messages sent to our Yahoo Group, fewer than two dozen community members attended. Reactions were mostly positive but some had concerns about the appearance, location, and safety of the proposed facility.

Over the past year, WRCA leadership continued to work with AT&T to address the concerns raised during that March 2012 presentation and other less formal engagements with community members who did not attend the meeting but expressed interest or concerns about the project. It became clear to WRCA’s board that the location adjacent to the restroom building was not in the community’s interests and recommended relocating the structure to the western edge of the park adjacent to the elementary school field. The location WRCA’s leadership recommended provides the furthest practical distance from homes on adjacent streets and does not present any line-of-sight security issues relating to the park’s playground or covered picnic area as had been the case with the previous proposed location.

Revised location of proposed AT&T Wireless Communications Facility at western edge of Witter Ranch Park, adjacent to elementary school field. Each blue line depicts an estimated 500 foot distance.

What Happens Next

According to Frank Schabarum, a wireless site development specialist representing AT&T in this proposal:

“The staff planner assigned to this project has 30 days to submit my project to the various City departments, including the Parks and Rec. Department, before he or she can respond back to me with comments. So, there is plenty of time for your group to review, digest and respond to the attached items being available on your website.

The project approval path is as follows: Submit to Planning Department. Planning Department submits to Parks and Recreation since they have jurisdiction on the Park. Parks and Rec. Staff may or may not have comments, questions or concerns that need to be resolved before they go to the Parks and Rec. Commission for approval. Commission approval is necessary before this site gets scheduled before the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is the last decision maker…….unless someone submits a formal appeal. If an appeal is made, then the project goes before the City Counsel to decide if the appeal has any merit at which time they will agree with the appellant or deny the appeal.

In Parallel, WRCA is working with Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby’s office on a plan to ensure that funds raised by the city in lease payments for this facility if it is built go back into our neighborhood in the form of a Capital Improvement Plan. Although WRCA has not endorsed this proposal, WRCA leadership is committed to the notion that our community deserves all of the proceeds generated by this facility in the form of whatever improvements or amenities that the community deems appropriate if indeed the facility is built — our neighborhood must have a say in how AT&T’s rent payments are invested.

Plans for further outreach efforts and possibly another community meeting to discuss this revised proposal are in progress and we encourage you to join our Yahoo group to be kept informed of updates as they become available.

If you have questions that are not answered in this article, the documents linked within, or the “You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers” article from March 20, 2012, you are welcome to enter them below and we will do our best to address them.

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