City Decision on Microwave Antennas Delayed

A decision on installing 25 microwave antennas on the roof of a medical office building was delayed by the Planning Commission.

Commissioners heard Tuesday from several residents and doctors occupying the Rancho Niguel Road office who expressed concern over the potential health effects of the AirTouch Cellular antennas.

A decision was postponed to Feb. 13.

In the meantime, city staff will come up with an independent analysis of whether microwave emissions can cause a health hazard.

"How safe this equipment is . . . seems to be very controversial," Commissioner Connie Axen said.

After three commissioners said they wouldn't approve the antenna installation, community development director Robert Lenard suggested hiring an outside consultant.

AirTouch Cellular presented UCI professor Joie Jones, who said that microwave antennas don't pose a health problem. However, commissioners said they would prefer to get another view from an independent expert.

Medical professionals in the building also worried that the AirTouch Cellular antennas would interfere with their equipment. Company engineers responded that their apparatus would be shielded against electronic interference.

AirTouch Cellular was involved in an earlier dispute in Laguna Niguel over whether the firm deceived the city and residents by switching the location of a microwave tower after receiving approval from the Planning Commission.

On Tuesday, angry homeowner reminded commissioners that the company had sent them a letter promising that the tower wouldn't be visible, then built it in a place where several feet of the pole could be seen.

Although the City Council declined to make AirTouch Cellular tear down the tower, three council members commented that they thought the company did misrepresent where the microwave pole would be located.

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