Cingular making way to county

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By MIKE MORRIS

Cingular Wireless, a nationwide cellular phone company, has asked to build 11 towers along Highway 49, running the entire length of Calaveras County.

Planning officials said Cingular has done this to close a gap in its service area and provide better reception to customers.

Ten of the proposed cell phone towers all between 45 and 100 feet tall are within county jurisdiction, while the other is in Angels Camp. Last month, Cingular made a request to build a large tower near Kragen Auto Parts in Angels Camp.

However, "Two of the county towers are within the city's sphere of influence even though they're out of city limits, meaning they're in an area that we could conceivably annex in the future," Angels Camp City Planner Amy Augustine said.

Angels Camp's City Council voted Tuesday on an ordinance regulating the appearances of towers. They set an Aug. 19 public hearing on the issue.

The city has made the appearance of the towers a priority in order to preserve the area's rural charm, officials have said.

Angels Camp planning commissioners agreed last month to make its tower a "stealth facility," meaning it must blend with the surrounding area. Examples of this include making the towers to look like trees, rocks or church steeples.

The county has no such ordinance in the works.

"I think it's interesting the city is in fact pursuing this and the county isn't," Augustine said.

The county can still restrict the appearance of the towers, County Planner Diana Hurlbert said.

Hurlbert said applications could take up to six months to process. No revenue would be made from the county's towers, although Angels Camp officials discussed the possibility of charging rent for its tower.

Contact Mike Morris at mmorris@uniondemocrat.com .

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The Union Democrat
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