S.B. COUNTY: Radio antenna takes step forward

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By Imrain Ghori
A proposal to build a radio antenna on a mountain ridge overlooking Wildwood Canyon State Park in Oak Glen got a step closer to winning approval from the San Bernardino County Planning Commission on Thursday, despite objections from neighbors and park supporters.
The county s planning staff had recommended denial of the project but the commission voted 3-1 to direct planners to complete an environmental study and return to the commission with the legal findings needed to approve the project. That process could take about three months, they said.

The vote at the end of a 4½-hour hearing was the latest turn in a back-and-forth process for applicant Lazer Broadcasting Inc., which has been seeking to build a radio tower on a 38-acre property next to the park since 2007.

The broadcaster wants to boost the signal of its Spanish-language station KXRS in Hemet.

Lazer proposed a 140-foot steel lattice tower in its initial application but later reduced the height to 80 feet, winning approval from the Planning Commission in November 2008. 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 its new application, Lazer shortened the pole to 43 feet while reducing the size of an equipment shelter from 250 square feet to 100 square feet. In March, the company proposed building the antenna out of a wood material instead of steel.

“We feel this is a very sensitive improvement to what was originally proposed,” said David Mlynarski, a consultant representing Lazer Broadcasting.

But environmentalists and park enthusiasts continue to oppose the project, saying it would spoil scenic vistas for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers at the 820-acre park.

“It s inconceivable that anyone would want to sully this wonder of nature by installing a radio tower,” said Yucaipa Mayor Dick Riddell.

But Mlynarski argued that the redesigned pole blends will not be that noticeable.

 

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

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