Cell Phone Tower Forced Out Of Park By ActivistsIn order to prevent the setting up of the Verizon Cell Tower in Pinole Valley Park, a group of Pinole residents who are against this project have been trying to reach the elected officials and the California Parks Department, visiting county offices, going through records, maps, contacts and researching land grants, as well as speaking to the members of the Indian Nation.

A Council meeting was held last night and Sal Spataro, a Pinole residnet said in the meeting that the group has contacted the State of California Parks and Recreation Department. Sal and the group were told by the State’s Senior Project Officer after he did some research, that the State has been protecting the Pinole Valley Park as the property was purchased using grant money hence the land could only be used for recreational purposes.

This has lead to mixed reactions from the public. Some are against the cell tower because of environmental reasons, while others oppose it for aesthetic reasons. But allof them are united in their displeasure about this project being approved by the City Council with little or no public input. The flaws in the Planning Commission’s By-laws were pointed out by the group. The major flaw was the lack of public information relative to the sub-committee’s findings (the PC sub-committee visited the site(s) in advance). In response to this, the Planning Commission made amendments to its by-laws.

It was also requested by the group that improvements must be made in the notification process so that projects like Verizon Cell Tower do not get accepted without notifying the public in advance. Now, the permit information is included in the weekly City Manager’s report.

The group has been constantly attending the City Council meetings and is inquiring about the process and the acceptance of the project. The City has accepted that they had made some mistakes, but no clarification was given on the matter of what those mistakes were, who were responsible for them and how those mistakes could be corrected.

The project timeline was shown by the Smoking Gun post. Concerns about the signing of the lease and its execution without council approval was troubling people. Questions remained on how the lease agreement was recorded without the knowledge of the Planning Commission and before the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) is considered.

Such questions caused the City to arrange a special workshop on September 11, 2013 at the City Hall, 2131 Pear Street at 6 p.m. All the queries were addressed in this workshop.