T-Mobile Resubmits Plan for University Ave. Cell-Phone Antennas

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday June 12, 2008 - 10:44:00 AM

T-Mobile will be back today (Thursday) to ask the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) to approve a permit for constructing a new wireless telecommunication facility on the roof of the Affordable Housing Associates-owned building at 1725 University Ave.  

The 4-2 vote in favor of the project at the May 22 meeting was insufficient, with two zoning commissioners abstaining and one commissioner recusing herself from the vote. At least five members of the nine-member board must approve an item to pass it.  

According to zoning staff, the proposed project is consistent with the city’s zoning ordinance. The project included eight cell-phone antennas and related equipment.  

Area residents had raised concerns about the project at the May 8 ZAB meeting, which led zoning staff to suggest the possibility of a mediation between Affordable Housing Associates and the residents. 

According to a recent zoning staff report, the zoning department is still waiting for the outcome of the mediation. 

Some board members had raised the need for an equitable cell-phone policy, pointing out the predominance of antennas in south and central Berkeley. 

Federal law prohibits cities from considering health impacts of antennas, and although federal law does not require it, Berkeley’s zoning ordinance allows local government bodies to consider necessity when it comes to approving antennas.  

The city’s Planning Commission is currently looking at a draft Wireless Telecommunications Ordinance, which the city council has advised should comply with federal law.