The Unalaska City Council greenlit the location for a new cellular tower on Standard Oil Hill, despite appeals from some community members.
Sherrie Doctor lives next to the proposed site on Chernofski Drive. She appealed the planning commission in April, outlining her concerns about the proposed tower.
“My sole intent for the appeal was to have the city council look at the decision [f]or the proposed cell tower and find an alternate location,” Doctor said at the city council’s Nov. 14 meeting. “[My] biggest concern is the fall distance, with the wind. It’s very concerning, and it’s probably within 60 feet of my house.”
Several community members signed on to Doctor’s appeal. Another resident of the Standard Oil Hill neighborhood, Sergei Roraback, also raised concerns during the Nov. 14 meeting.
“I’m concerned about the noise,” Roraback said. “When the wind is blowing 50 miles an hour, how much of a noise is that going to be creating?”
The proposed site for the OptimERA tower sits on a little over an acre of undeveloped land owned by the Ounalashka Corp. Laresa Syverson is the technical land manager for the corporation, and she assured residents the location was chosen carefully.
“It wasn’t just chosen willy-nilly,” Syverson said. “We chose it because it is on the cusp of a high residential and marine industrial environment. I think that this location was chosen also because of its closeness to the other tsunami tower in the area.”
Corporation CEO Natalie Cale said she sympathized with residents’ concerns, but was also considering the potential ripple effects a reversed decision would have on landowners.
“If council lets individuals throughout the community dictate where and when a landowner can do something with its property, they’re going to set a pretty dangerous precedent, in my opinion,” said Cale, who served as the corporation’s general council before taking the role as chief executive.
The city council voted to uphold the city’s original decision approving the conditional use permit but plans to construct the tower have not yet been announced.