By MIKE MORRIS
Sammy Marshall never thought he'd see a cellular phone tower doubling as a pine tree.
Let alone one within the Angels Camp city limits.
"To me it's just an eyesore," the Angels resident of 65 years said. "I don't care whether they camouflage it. Paint it pink. To me, it's still going to be an eyesore."
Marshall was at last night's Angels Camp Planning Commission meeting, where commissioners unanimously OK'd a permit for construction of a 65-foot cellular phone tower.
Pending approval by the Angels Camp City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 16, the tower, disguised to look like a pine tree, could be up and running by the end of the year. The tower's proposed site is at 740 S. Main St., behind Kragen Auto Parts' parking lot on Highway 49.
Cingular Wireless, a national cellular phone company, has proposed 11 towers in Calaveras County to close a service gap. Whether the others would look like trees is unclear.
A light pole and propane tank will need to be relocated so the Angels Camp tower can be built. There was concern among commissioners that enough lighting remains in the parking lot.
Ron Mauck, a Sacramento-based contract planner for Cingular, was at the meeting and said the lot will remain lit.
But the main concern, both with planning commissioners and City Council members, is that the tower blends with its surroundings.
Mauck and Angels Camp City Planner Amy Augustine were in talks back in July over the tree tower to be "planted" in Angels Camp.
Augustine said she picked the pine tree because it looked the most natural for the city.
A palm-tree tower had been proposed, but "That would really call attention to it," she said.
Last night, planning commissioners also approved:
A site plan to turn a home at 735 S. Main St. into a printing business.
Jim and Lynn Klann, owners of Foothill Printing & Graphics, want to expand their business. Because of financial growth, they want to move their Angels Camp commercial printing site to one almost double in size.