ATC tower decision could come Nov. 13

The Hood River County Planning Commission may decide this Wednesday whether or not a 140-foot cell tower on the west side of Hood River can be built.

A public hearing to consider American Tower Corporation’s appeal to build a cell tower in between Fairview Drive and Rocky Road will occur Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Hood River County Business Administration Building located at 601 State Street.

The proposal from ATC has drawn the ire of many local residents who feel the tower is too tall and poorly sited, with a location that abuts a residential area as well as a popular recreation trail that contains views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams.

ATC representatives maintain that the tower, which would be disguised as a fir tree, is needed to fill coverage gaps south of Hood River that have been identified by AT&T — a wireless carrier that would be the primary beneficiary if the cell tower is approved. According to tower proponents, demand for cell service is growing and the new tower is needed to offload some of the burden placed on other cell towers in the Gorge that are nearing their carrying capacity.

Planning Director Mike Benedict originally nixed ATC’s permit to build the tower back in July after deeming that the structure was too tall and not visually compatible with the surrounding area. Approximately 90 people submitted written comments regarding the cell tower application and Benedict said that none, to his knowledge, were in favor of the proposal.

ATC appealed the decision soon after and reduced the height of the tower, which was originally 165 feet, down to its current proposed height of 140 feet.

During a public hearing that was held Oct. 23, tower opponents, many of whom live near the proposed site, scoffed at ATC’s offer, saying the tower would still be too tall. ATC and AT&T again countered that the cell tower’s location was needed to reduce coverage gaps and to alleviate the burden that is placed on current towers, particularly during a situation of high-usage, like a natural disaster.

Commissioners honored a request from cell tower proponents to keep the record open for three weeks following the hearing and the planning department has been collecting written testimony from both sides during this time. Most of the comments, with the exception of the appellant’s final written testimony, can be viewed on the planning department’s website (, click on the “Community Development” tab, then the “American Tower appeal info” link).

The seven-member planning commission will not hear any new testimony from the audience during the public hearing, other than what has been submitted in writing ahead of time. The commissioners will deliberate and likely vote on the issue that evening.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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