However, the tower at this point remains unbuilt and the issue will go back before the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Opponents of the project are complaining that a recent article in the local paper covered only one side of the story and omitted critical new information.
According to the article on Sunday, “The foundation of the tower has been constructed at the landfill, as has an accessory equipment building, but the tower itself remains unbuilt, the result of delays in the FCC permitting process as well as ongoing opposition from wildlife groups and nearby residents.”
Opponents of the tower believe that, due to its location in a narrow reach of the Pacific Flyway, “this radio tower will have significant impacts on the environment that have not yet been adequately addressed. The radio tower will kill many birds, including protected species.”
“The tower’s design and lighting will have a significant visual impact to the rural community where it will be developed,” they write. “These impacts could be avoided by placing the tower outside of the Pacific Flyway or co-locating the antenna on an existing tower, or even combining two or three existing towers into one tower.”
Proponents of the tower, including representatives from KDVS, a UC Davis student-run radio station, argue that “time is running out for them.”
Neil Ruud, former general manager of KDVS, told supervisors at a meeting last month, “We have another deadline with the FCC in February. We have to have antenna and transmitter up and running and submit tests to the FCC. We’re already pushing up against this deadline (and) we cannot push it back any further. If we get pushed back, our permit will expire and other stations will move in and we’ll be stuck broadcasting just in Davis.”
The article reported, “From the start, the project was opposed by environmentalists who feared the impact on birds as well as residents of north Davis, who believed the tower, with its blinking strobe lights, would be a visual blight for those living on the northern perimeter of the city.”
“Changes to the initial proposal intended to allay concerns included the removal of guy wires which were considered a particularly dangerous hazard to birds. After numerous public hearings, the board approved a one-year use permit for the tower in 2010.”
At a meeting last December, opponents voiced similar concerns about bird strikes and light pollution.
However, at the time the Board of Supervisors argued that there was no change in circumstances to warrant denial of the project.
The article quotes Supervisor Jim Provenza, “To approve a project and then go back (on it) would set a terrible precedent … It’s important when we approve a project that we send a message to businesses that they can rely on our decisions.”
The board at that time would deny the appeal by a 5-0 vote.
A lawsuit, however, was heard last month, and “the court sided with the county on zoning issues opponents raised, as well as on opponents’ claim that the county lacked authority to extend the use permit,” an extension that was granted in 2011.
“But the court found that in extending the use permit, the county did not properly consider whether there was previously unavailable new information or changed circumstances since the original permit was issued that might require additional environmental review.”
County staff is now reporting that there is no new information or changed circumstances.
“No changes have been made to the physical components or location of the (project) since its original approval in September 2010,” according to the staff report.
However, the opposition to the tower tell a different story – one that they believe was not conveyed in the article.
“Results Radio and the County are once again trying to employ procedural stunts to push through a 370-foot tall radio tower without public scrutiny or analysis of its environmental impacts. The County plans to reapprove this terrible project on November 13th without ever addressing important environmental and community concerns,” opponents of the project wrote in a flyer.
They argue that the court “threw out the County’s CEQA review for the radio tower’s use permit extension granted in December 2011. The Court found that the County’s evasion of environmental review violated CEQA.”
The county’s public position since the proceedings in 2011 remains unchanged, according to opponents of the project.
Many citizens and environmental protection groups, including Sierra Club Yolano Group, Yolo Audubon Society and Tuleyome, raised environmental issues that were inadequately analyzed, or ignored altogether, in the defective Mitigated Negative Declaration of the EIR that the county adopted in 2010.
“Rather than respond to the public’s concerns, County officials brushed them off,” the opposition argues. “Ignoring their prior mistakes, Results Radio and the County are again attempting to avoid public scrutiny and environmental review of the radio tower. Instead of waiting until after the November 27th Court hearing the County plans to proceed with project re-approval at the November 13th Board of Supervisors meeting.”
The City of Davis has formally objected to the tower, which it found last December to violate the Pass-Through Agreement and the Greenline MOU.
City Manager Steve Pinkerton at that time wrote, “The City Council reviewed the project and approved a recommendation that the Board not support an extension of the permit to construct the tower based on the potential impacts to biological resources and the creation of aesthetic impacts associated with tower lighting.”
The city disagrees that improvements in the project have mitigated concerns.
“Despite improvements in the project design, the proposed project is inconsistent with the US Fish and Wildlife Services’ communication tower locational guidelines and will create a potential bird strike hazard due to the close proximity to wildlife habitat areas and bird migratory routes,” Mr. Pinkerton wrote
He added, “The tower will decrease nighttime visual quality in a dark part of Yolo County. Towers should be located in lit corridors.”
The city argued, “The Yolo County Board of Supervisors should not support an extension of the permit to construct the tower based on (1) the potential impacts to biological resources associated with its proposed location and (2) the creation of aesthetic impacts associated with tower lighting.”
Last year, however, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors chose to disregard the city’s objections.
The opposition writes, “There is legitimate concern that the proposed tower is just the “camel’s nose under the tent” for what may become a larger antenna farm.”
The opposition believes that KDVS is being used by Results Radio in order to get that location, which will then enable them to sell slots to other users.
“The primary purpose of the proposed tower is to serve the Sacramento market – with Yolo County absorbing the blight and the wildlife impacts,” they write.
They add, “Results Radio does not care about KDVS but wants this tower erected to make a lot of money to rent out slots to other users. KDVS is being used for the benefit of Results Radio and the impacts would be devastating to the bird wildlife and to the residents of north Davis and rural neighbors for miles from the radio tower.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting