This City Council story replaces an earlier unfinished version, which was posted in error.
The last time the Edmonds City Council met to discuss what cell phone towers should look like in Edmonds, City Councilmember Michael Plunkett had a singular focus: How to best ensure that one version of said towers — known as a monopole — is sufficiently disguised to look like a tree.
Plunkett continued this path during Tuesday night’s council meeting, when citizens were given a chance to comment on a plan to oversee both the placement of wireless antennae and their appearance based on city design standards. (There wasn’t much in the way of citizen comment, although the public hearing did draw two representatives of the wireless industry.)
After one of the industry representatives — Richard Busch, president of Northwest Wireless Association — suggested that so-called “monopines” could be a good choice for parks or other wooded locations — Plunkett said he believed that the council should have the final say on any such structure proposed for Edmonds. “There’s going to be some judgment, “Plunkett said, and I’d like that judgment to be made by the council.”
City staff present to answer questions noted that leaving the decision in the hands of councilmembers would make it difficult for staff to provide guidance to companies planning to install such towers. “We can’t say monopines will be approved if the council likes what they look like,” said Michael Clugston of the Planning Department.
In addition, Clugston noted it’s unlikely that the city would have many — if any — monopoles since the proposed regulations label them “the least preferred” use requiring a conditional use permit that would be reviewed through a city hearing examiner.
Plunkett went so far as to make a motion for an amendment that would require council to make the final call on tree-disguised towers but later withdrew it, admitting that the motion was “a solution looking for a problem.”
In the end, the council voted unanimously to have staff develop an ordinance governing wireless facilities and bring it back for final review and approval. The preferred placement for such facilities, by the way, is co-location — essentially placing a new antenna on existing sites such as a building or a utility pole. Guyed lattice towers would not be permitted.
Councilmembers also revisited an issue they considered in April: Whether to amend the Edmonds Community Development Code to reduce the required street setbacks for the Westgate Community Commercial Center from 20 feet to 8 feet along State Route 104 and from 20 feet to 5 feet along 100th Avenue West. The last time this was introduced, Council was told that a developer was hoping to build a bank building in the Westgate neighborhood and would prefer reduced street setbacks to bring the building closer to the street. At the time, councilmembers voted 5-2 against the plan, stating they didn’t want to make a hasty decision based on the needs of one developer. On Tuesday night, also on a 5-2 vote, councilmembers voted to table the idea until they hear from the University of Washington on a development plan for both the Westgate and Five Corners neighborhoods, scheduled to be presented to the Council June 21.
“I don’t see the harm in waiting just two weeks to get a good look at the report,” Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas said.
In other business, the Council heard three reports:
– From the Edmonds Library Board, which noted that the library had 241,609 users come through its doors in 2010 and also presented 313 free programs. After the presentation, Council President Strom Peterson reminded the councilmembers and the public that the Library will be officially renamed in honor of late City Councilmember Peggy Pritchard Olson, during a ceremony at 5 p.m. June 21.
– From Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite, a report on recent repairs to Yost Pool, which included a complete replastering, the addition of six racing lanes and replacement of some fingertip tiles. Replacement of the ADA lift, at a cost of $14,000 — will occur Wednesday, Hite said. Long term, the pool’s boiler needs to be replaced in the next two to three years and the bathhouse/locker room structure also eventually needs to be redone, she added.
Hite also shared the financials for Yost in 2010, which included $141,425 in revenues and $207,456 in expenses. However, if you subtract the cost of maintenance staff — which are working on other projects year-round in addition to seasonal tasks at the pool — the pool expenses would equal $166,515, she said.
Yost, which officially opened Monday, also provided free admission to Edmonds residents last weekend and drew about 200 people, she said.
– From Public Works Director Phil Williams, a report on final construction costs for Five Corners Booster Pump Station improvements, which included replacing valves and piping within the station, upgrading the existing telemetry controls, seismic upgrades and additional security at the reservoir. The final cost was $1,168,903, more than the $1,103,660 originally budgeted because lead-based paint was discovered in the soil at the Five Corners site, likely related to the repainting and reconditioning of the reservoir in 1996.