White Salmon commission considers cell tower leases

The White Salmon Planning Commission took up the city’s municipal code regarding cell tower leases for a discussion last Wednesday.

The commission is reviewing the code outlining the process after city staff received a request to sign a lease option document with a subsidy of U.S. Cellular, which would allow the telecommunications group to conduct studies on the site to review options to possibly construct a cell tower.

City staff, in coordination with the City Operations Committee and City Attorney Kenneth Woodrich, developed amendments to WSMC 17.78 for consideration by the planning commission, as well as city council. One crucial proposed amendment provides a process within the municipal code about how ground lease options should come before the city council.

“Currently there’s nothing in our code, so the city council wanted something in our code that governs how those come to the city council in the future, that they’ll have to hold a public hearing,” said City Clerk/Treasurer Jan Brending.

One amendment requires a public hearing before the city council to be held to consider a ground lease option. 

Another amendment proposes that a hearing examiner hear any appeal made by potential lessees, and yet another expands the radius from one half-mile to the line of sight from the proposed service area, where the potential lessee will have to file an affidavit attesting to the fact that “the applicant made diligent efforts to obtain permission to install or co-locate the proposed telecommunications facilities.”

The planning commission will hold a public hearing on Oct. 14 to review the proposed amendments. If approved, it will then come before city council for final approval on the code.

The planning commission also accepted a draft urbanization study, which assesses the employment and housing needs of residents of the White Salmon/Bingen areas, and forecasts economic needs into the future.

The study, along with separate technical analyses of transportation and infrastructure, will be used to inform the City of White Salmon and Klickitat County about ways to update long range plans to ensure adequate levels of public services to address future growth.

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