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Pole weathers appeal

A controversial communications pole towers over Rich Passage.  - Review file photo
A controversial communications pole towers over Rich Passage.
— image credit: Review file photo

The hearing examiner says a challenge wasn’t filed on time.

She can’t hear them now.

That was essentially the response last week by city Hearing Examiner Meredith Getches – not to the bespectacled hipster in the cell phone commercial – but to a group of Blakely Avenue neighbors trying to clear up a dispute with Verizon Wireless over a cell tower installation that’s fouling their view.

“It’s not clearing up,” said Dave Snedeker, who’s upset by the installation. “It’s just getting weirder.”

Snedeker and neighbor George Nickum in November appealed the September issuance of a building permit that allowed Verizon to replace an existing 30-foot tall utility pole with one that’s 15 feet taller.

The pole is slated to hold an antenna that would improve wireless coverage for Verizon’s customers; the company signed a contract with a nearby resident to house accompanying equipment in a structure on the man’s property.

Snedeker and Nickum filed their appeal on Nov. 8; a hearing was set for tomorrow morning, but last week was canceled after Getches dismissed the case on the grounds that the appeal wasn’t filed in time.

According to city code, appeals of building permits must be “filed with the City Clerk 14 days after the date of the decision or 21 days if the land use decision requires a SEPA threshold decision comment period.”

The appeal by Snedeker and Nickum was filed more than 50 She can’t hear them now.

That was essentially the response last week by city Hearing Examiner Meredith Getches – not to the bespectacled hipster in the cell phone commercial – but to a group of Blakely Avenue neighbors trying to clear up a dispute with Verizon Wireless over a cell tower installation that’s fouling their view.

“It’s not clearing up,” said Dave Snedeker, who’s upset by the installation. “It’s just getting weirder.”

Snedeker and neighbor George Nickum in November appealed the September issuance of a building permit that allowed Verizon to replace an existing 30-foot tall utility pole with one that’s 15 feet taller.

The pole is slated to hold an antenna that would improve wireless coverage for Verizon’s customers; the company signed a contract with a nearby resident to house accompanying equipment in a structure on the man’s property.

Snedeker and Nickum filed their appeal on Nov. 8; a hearing was set for tomorrow morning, but last week was canceled after Getches dismissed the case on the grounds that the appeal wasn’t filed in time.

According to city code, appeals of building permits must be “filed with the City Clerk 14 days after the date of the decision or 21 days if the land use decision requires a SEPA threshold decision comment period.”

The appeal by Snedeker and Nickum was filed more than 50 She can’t hear them now.

That was essentially the response last week by city Hearing Examiner Meredith Getches – not to the bespectacled hipster in the cell phone commercial – but to a group of Blakely Avenue neighbors trying to clear up a dispute with Verizon Wireless over a cell tower installation that’s fouling their view.

“It’s not clearing up,” said Dave Snedeker, who’s upset by the installation. “It’s just getting weirder.”

Snedeker and neighbor George Nickum in November appealed the September issuance of a building permit that allowed Verizon to replace an existing 30-foot tall utility pole with one that’s 15 feet taller.

The pole is slated to hold an antenna that would improve wireless coverage for Verizon’s customers; the company signed a contract with a nearby resident to house accompanying equipment in a structure on the man’s property.

Snedeker and Nickum filed their appeal on Nov. 8; a hearing was set for tomorrow morning, but last week was canceled after Getches dismissed the case on the grounds that the appeal wasn’t filed in time.

According to city code, appeals of building permits must be “filed with the City Clerk 14 days after the date of the decision or 21 days if the land use decision requires a SEPA threshold decision comment period.”

The appeal by Snedeker and Nickum was filed more than 50 days after the permit was issued.

Verizon in December filed a motion to dismiss the case, and an order to that effect was issued by Getches on Jan. 3.

Neighbors have appealed the dismissal and are awaiting response.

A separate lawsuit contending the extended pole violates an existing view covenant has already been filed, Snedeker said, and more suits could follow.

Had they known the project was in the works, neighbors say they would have filed a timely appeal.

But Snedeker didn’t learn of the plan until just before the pole began its protrusion above the horizon of his waterfront view – and by then it was too late.

“There was no visible action,” Snedeker said. “I didn’t know anything was going on until I noticed there was a bulldozer down there.”

The pole was installed in late October. According to city planners, neither environmental review nor notification of neighbors was required prior to issuance of the permit because the pole is considered an existing structure.

Snedeker said that means that under the current rules, cell phone companies can avoid the possibility of appeal by simply waiting to begin pole installation until after the window for appeal passes.

The city hasn’t updated its wireless communication code since 1997.

“We’re going to go ahead with every legal avenue available to us at this point,” Snedeker said.

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