No new cell towers will be built in Spokane until the “form, fit, function and placement” of the towers is defined by the City Council, which put a six-month moratorium on new towers despite warnings from the city’s legal department of a potential lawsuit.
The moratorium, put forth by Councilman Mike Allen and unanimously approved by the council Monday night, also puts a hold on any permits that have been with the city for up to six months.
“This gives us a six-month pause,” Allen said.
The move came after relentless protest from Patricia Hansen, a resident of the Cliff-Cannon neighborhood who opposes the construction of a 60-foot tower at 811 W. 15th Ave. on the South Hill. Council President Ben Stuckart said he believed the construction of that tower has been put on hold with the council’s moratorium.
Hansen said she’s been pushing the issue for 14 months but only recently gained traction among council members and her neighbors. She said she held a meeting at her home last week and 40 people attended. She began circulating a petition against the cell tower, and on the first day she collected 108 signatures.
“That’s pretty significant for our little neighborhood,” she said. “Is it stopped? No. Is it on the radar for the city? Yeah.”
Hansen said she was prepared for a fight.
“Right now, I can tell you who is winning. It doesn’t appear to be the neighborhoods or the city,” she said.
Hansen and nine other concerned Spokane residents came to the council meeting and voiced support for the moratorium. Most said the process of notifying neighbors of tower construction and allowing public comment was flawed.
“If the process doesn’t work, then the process doesn’t exist,” said Jonathan Steinbach, a Cliff-Cannon resident.
Construction began last month on a 60-foot cell tower in the Grandview-Thorpe neighborhood at 2949 W. 22nd Ave. despite neighbors’ pleas against it and accusations that the public comment process was broken. Another tower is currently proposed to be built at 9001 N. Indian Trail Road.
The council acknowledged that by freezing cell tower construction for the time being, the city would likely face a lawsuit.
“We will get sued,” Stuckart said. Allen agreed, saying the odds of a lawsuit were “somewhere north of 99 percent.”
Councilman Jon Snyder said he supported the moratorium because it would allow the city to create policy around information technology infrastructure in the city, including for broadband Internet.
“We have very poor technology planning for the entire city,” he said.
In a rare moment of council amity, Councilman Mike Fagan agreed with Snyder, adding that he welcomed a lawsuit on the issue.
“We owe it to the citizens to fight,” he said.
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