T-Mobile won't build cell tower

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — T-Mobile is withdrawing its application to build a cellular antenna on the 500 block of Cumberland Road in response to strong residential opposition, company representatives said Thursday night.

The announcement was made at a community meeting with neighbors of the planned “micro-cell” site in the city’s right-of-way. Residents’ complaints about the project prompted the City Council in January to impose a 45-day moratorium on cellular facilities in residential zones to allow time for a draft policy to handle future applications.

Dana Taylor, operations director for T-Mobile USA Inc.’s north Los Angeles region, told the group of about 20 Cumberland Heights residents Thursday that the company’s policy is to work with the community and local officials when placing the antennas in residential zones.

“Clearly, in this case, that didn’t happen as well as we’d liked,” he said.

The announcement was met with surprise and a short burst of applause from the residents, many of whom were active members of the political action group formed to protest the Cumberland Road application.

That group, Glendale Organized Against Cell Towers, or GO ACT, had distributed lawn signs, shirts, gathered petitions and engaged in an organized mass-media blitz to protest the antenna in the weeks leading up to the moratorium.

Councilman Frank Quintero, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said city officials were notified of T-Mobile’s plans in an e-mail earlier that day.

“I’m very pleased that T-Mobile has listened to the wishes of the residents,” he said, adding that the upcoming city ordinance “should prevent this situation from taking place in the future.”

A formal notice of withdrawal would be submitted to the city early next week, company representatives said.

Residents at the meeting said they were cautiously optimistic that T-Mobile would follow through with the withdrawal, but concerns lingered over future plans to install the so-called micro-cell sites in residential zones throughout the city.

“It affects more than just a handful of people,” said Marguerite Lincoln, a main organizer in the campaign against the Cumberland application.

T-Mobile representatives told residents that they intended to work with the city as it develops a municipal policy to govern future applications to build cellular facilities throughout Glendale in response to in-home demand for greater reception, although they admitted it was an “inexact science.”

As the city continues to work on a draft plan, Chief Assistant City Atty. Michael Garcia told the City Council last week that officials would likely return Feb. 17 with a request to extend the moratorium to allow more time.

Residents suggested the city set up a review system for cellular facilities similar to that for development projects, which require a public hearing and binding input from city commissioners.

Local governments so far lack broad authority to affect applications to build cellular facilities, which fall under the purview of federal and state agencies.

Cell-phone companies argue the new sites are in response to consumer demand, but more and more residential communities have opposed the equipment on aesthetic grounds and concerns over potential health effects.

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