By Conrad Dudderar
Dozens of residents filled the Yukon City Council chambers to demonstrate opposition to a proposed cell tower on Yukon’s east side.
None of them even had to speak before Mayor Shelli Selby closed an Aug. 15th public hearing on applicant Gregory Ferris’ request to appeal the Yukon Planning Commission’s July 10th denial of the proposed tower at 872 S Yukon Parkway.
Conducting the appeal hearing became a moot point after city officials determined a proposed fenced equipment enclosure around the communication tower would be too close to adjacent properties, according to city code.
“The matter would need to qualify before it would be considered for a conditional use permit,” Yukon city attorney Roger Rinehart said. “If the setback requirement has not been met, then it would appear it doesn’t qualify for consideration.
“The city’s position is that it does not meet the requirement.”
Ferris Consulting, on behalf of Tillman Infrastructure, applied for a conditional use permit to allow a 95-foot communication tower with 4-foot lighting rod behind Lakeview Intermediate School.
The applicant proposed erecting a monopole tower and utility cabinets on a concrete pad inside a 50-foot by 50-foot fenced enclosure. The plan called for a 12-foot access road from the school parking lot to the cell tower site.
“The tower will be located on the property in such a way to have setbacks on all sides of a minimum of 400 feet,” the applicant wrote in its application for the conditional use permit.
Assistant City Manager Mitchell Hort was asked to clarify whether the applicant’s request did indeed meet the City of Yukon’s 400-foot setback requirement.
A section of Yukon City Code requires that a tower ranging from 81 to 130 feet tall – including antenna, buildings, power equipment, and perimeter fence – “be located a minimum of 400 feet from any abutting property line and no closer than 300 feet to a residence or occupied structure on the same lot.”
After reviewing the application and property deed, Hort determined the 50-foot by 50-foot fenced-in area would encroach into the minimum setback on the north and south sides.
“All they have is 810 feet,” he explained. “To meet that distance of 400 feet, they’re 40 feet short.
“I believe the application does not meet the requirements as submitted under this section I just quoted.”
Mayor Selby closed the public hearing “due to the fact that they don’t qualify for a conditional use permit.”
She then removed from the city council meeting agenda a related item to consider a motion to either deny or approve the appeal – or send the request back to the Planning Commission.
That prompted loud cheers and applause from residents inside the Centennial Building.
Yukon’s Jacque Pearsall led a group of neighboring homeowners – primarily in the Kingsway and Sunrise Hills additions – opposed to the city council granting the permit for construction of this tower. She presented more than 100 signed petitions.
Each petition lists sections of Yukon City Code this proposed development violates because it:
- Harms the health, safety and general welfare of the community, public environment, property, and community aesthetics.
“Approximately 40 single-family homes back up to the Lakeview Intermediate School athletic fields,” the petition reads. “Homeowners paid more for these lots due to their wide-open views to the west and access to the athletic fields for recreation and aesthetics.
“If allowed to proceed, this development would replace the amazing Oklahoma sunset view many residents have enjoyed for 15+ years with one dominated by a 95-foot steel tower and fenced-in enclosure 400 feet away. This degrades the value of their property by approximately $1,208,000 (@10% net loss x 40 lots) and harms the community aesthetic.
“It also impinges on the use of the athletic fields for our kids. The area of this proposed development lies directly in the center of Lakeview Intermediate School athletic fields. This area is used by local youth athletes for baseball, soccer, rugby, and other sports. It’s also used by local residents for general recreation and health.
“If allowed to proceed, this development would deprive local youth baseball teams and other users of a sizeable section of a baseball field and route a 12-foot asphalt road directly through the middle of the athletic fields. The City of Yukon strives to provide outdoor recreational spaces for our residents to promote a healthy community. We need to preserve these areas for our residents to recreate and embrace a healthy, active lifestyle.”
- Does not minimize the visual impact of towers and maximize the use of existing and approved towers and buildings to accommodate multiple antennas in order to reduce the number of towers needed to serve the community.
“The proposed tower site is a few hundred yards from the YNB water tower with multiple emitters already installed,” the petition reads. “Placing a 95-foot steel tower less than a quarter mile from an existing emitter location does not minimize the visual impact of towers and maximize the use of existing and approved towers and buildings.”
AT&T wants to increase wireless coverage with new 5G technology while improving existing 4G service in Yukon.
The applicant’s consultant Ferris, in his presentation to the Yukon Planning Commission, said the Lakeview athletic fields and “major areas of open space” would remain intact with construction of this new cell tower.
He cited the need to provide “fast Internet” for Yukon’s AT&T customers.
There are no other cell towers within one mile.
And there is “no room” for AT&T on the water tower about one-quarter mile north (next to Skyview Elementary) that has other carriers’ antennas, according to Ferris.
AT&T’s antennas are located on other Yukon towers in the north, south and west parts of the city.
“We’re trying to ‘off-load’ some capacity on those as well,” Ferris explained.
He described the proposed 911-capable, AT&T FirstNet-dedicated tower on Yukon Parkway as “very short.”
“Normally, we’re building 125- to 140-foot towers,” Ferris noted. “This one is 95-feet tall.”
It would be landscaped and “blend in” with nearby 50-foot light standards, he added.
At the July 10th Yukon Planning Commission meeting, Ferris contended this proposed tower would be 400 feet from the properties to the north and south – and “well over” that to the east and west.
But as Hort since determined, the tower’s fenced equipment enclosure would be less than 400 feet away.
Ferris referred to an independent study conducted by a property appraiser group that shows cell towers do not impact values of nearby properties. Pearsall strongly refuted that claim.