SB County: Radio tower project back before planners

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By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

A radio broadcaster seeking to build an antenna tower near Wildwood Canyon State Park in Oak Glen is revising the project once again in hopes of winning approval from San Bernardino County.

On Thursday, the county planning commission continued a hearing on the proposal until May 5 at the request of Lazer Broadcasting, Inc.

The company, which operates several Southern California radio stations, wants to build a radio tower on a 38-acre property next to the park so it can boost the signal of Spanish-language station KXRS in Hemet.

The tower has been strongly opposed by environmentalists and neighboring cities, including Yucaipa, which passed a resolution in opposition. Opponents say it would spoil scenic vistas for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers at the 820-acre park and open the door for more such projects.

Lazer initially proposed a 140-foot tower in its 2007 application but later reduced the height to 80 feet, winning approval from the Planning Commission in November 2008.

However, after opponents appealed the decision, the Board of Supervisors reversed the commission in January 2009 and denied Lazer a permit “with prejudice,” a condition that prevented the company from reapplying for a year.

In the new application, Lazer has shortened the tower to 43 feet while reducing the size of an equipment shelter from 250 square feet to 100 square feet.

A day before the Thursday hearing, Lazer sent a letter to county planners proposing to change the design of the antenna from a steel lattice tower to a creosote wood pole and asking for additional time for the county to study the change.

Bob Roberts, a consultant for Lazer, said the new design will allow the pole to blend into its surroundings.

“This modification is just an additional effort to appease the opponents,” he said.

But opponents said it doesn t sway their main concern that the tower does not belong in that area.

“We have a beautiful state park,” said Kristine Mahler, a Yucaipa resident and member of the city s trails and open space committee. “This is our treasure. A 40-foot pole does not belong there. An 80-foot pole does not belong there. A 120-foot pole does not belong there.”

County planning staff has recommended denial, citing the board s 2009 finding that the park area should be protected.

Reach Imran Ghori at 951-368-9558 or ighori@PE.com

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