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Mon October 3, 2011
Las Cruces City Council Denies Cell Tower Request
By Vanessa Dabovich
Las Cruces, NM – On Monday the city council considered formal approval of a zone change and special use permit to erect a 60 foot Verizon cell tower on land near Sedona Hills Parkway and Pagosa Hills Avenue on the East Mesa.
The request needed to change a single family high density property to commercial low intensity conditional property. The proposed zone change allows for utility-related land uses such as antennas, towers, communication structures and public and private utility structures.
The request was presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission in May and the commission voted to recommend approval. The zone change then went to the city council in July, but was remanded back to Planning and Zoning to allow for public comment on the issue. Public meetings were held and were followed by two special meetings in which the commission once again recommended approval.
There has been significant public opposition to the tower going up near homes. The Miramar Neighborhood Association signed and submitted a petition that garnered 160 signatures from around 105 homes in the area. Miramar representative Linda Atwood
Atwood-"Our concern is how many violations of the zoning code does it take before the ordinance becomes worthless. Clearly we have seen that public staff and the P and Z are not keepers of the code. It is up to city council to keep and uphold the 2001 zoning code as it is on the books."
After presentations from Verizon representatives and lengthy discussion the council voted against the zone change and special use permit, however, due to the specifics of the proposal the council had to find factual legal reason to vote down the request.
Mayor Pro-Tem Sharon Thomas spoke for many on the council by pointing out lack of sufficient information.
Thomas-"It has to satisfy the city's comprehensive plan and it seems to me there are plenty of reasons to deny including the fact that we just weren't given enough information to make this decision. I don't understand why when these things come before us, why we don't get all those things in the plan that might support or not support it so we are given objective information to make a decision. This project doesn't fit that. I think we very much want to find a site and work with Verizon; we just haven't been given any information about what the other possibilities might be it was just limited to this one little circle and that was inadequate."
The final council vote was five to one with Miguel Silva voting yes and Dolores Connor abstaining.