The City Council will consider extending a 45-day moratorium on new telecommunications antennae to give city staff time to revise zoning regulations to deal with the increasing numbers of applications for them.
The city manager has suggested two options to the council. The first is to extend the moratorium for six months while zoning regulations are modified. The other is to prohibit the approval of any new permits in all parts of the city except the central commercial district.
Without City Council action at tonight’s special meeting, the moratorium will expire Feb. 3. To keep the moratorium in effect, the City Council must approve the extension by at least a 7-9 vote.
The moratorium was initially approved by the City Council on Dec. 19, after hearing from neighbors of the Oaks Theater on Solano Avenue who complained about the Zoning Adjustments Board’s approval of an Nextel application to place 12 wireless telecommunication antennae on the theater’s roof. The antennae are primarily used to
support cellular phone use.
Neighbors said they were worried about health risks posed by the radio frequency waves emitted by the antennae and the aesthetic impact the increasing number if antennae will have on residential and mixed use neighborhoods.
According to a report by the City Manager’s Office, the City of Berkeley has received 35 applications for telecommunications antennae, compared to only five during the previous seven years. The city has issued permits for antenna installation at 20 different locations throughout the city.
The report said the planning department expects the number of applications to continue to increase and especially in residential neighborhoods where there is a need for telecommunications companies to expand coverage. The majority of early applications were for the industrial areas in west Berkeley.
The City Council meeting will be held in the City Council Chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Tuesday at 7 p.m.