"By creating her own motion, City Attorney Leslie Devaney said, Bennett created a path to approve the project with a majority of the quorum, rather than a majority of the entire body."
T-Mobile tower approved; Two of three council members vote for enhanced cell coverage
By NELSY RODRIGUEZ
MURRIETA ---- Ten months after the project was proposed, the Murrieta City Council approved plans to construct a 50-foot T-Mobile cellular tower at the Date Street Plaza.
Councilwoman Kelly Bennett and Councilman Rick Gibbs voted to approve the tower, and Mayor Gary Thomasian voted against it at Tuesday night's council meeting.
The approval paves the way for the cell company to build the tower, which will be designed to look like a clock tower, over a trash enclosure in the shopping center at Date Street and Margarita Road. The tower will have room to include Verizon antennas, and possibly a third cell carrier, and is expected to improve the cell reception of thousands of customers in the area.
Only three members of the council were eligible to vote on the project because the other two are or had been employed by Verizon.
City staff members recommended the project be approved and drafted a resolution for the council to pass. Had the council members voted on that resolution, state law requires that all three would have had to vote yes for the project to be approved.
At a meeting last month, however, it became apparent that T-Mobile had an uphill climb to gain approval from all three when Thomasian made it clear that he was not inclined to support the project.
After the time reserved for members of the public to comment on the issue, Thomasian called for a five-minute break.
When the meeting resumed, Councilwoman Kelly Bennett read into the record her own seven-part motion to approve the project. By creating her own motion, City Attorney Leslie Devaney said, Bennett created a path to approve the project with a majority of the quorum, rather than a majority of the entire body.
"It was a motion not based on a resolution," Devaney said. "By her doing it that way and formulating on the spot her findings and facts, our interpretation of state law is that it requires only two (out of the three) votes."
Mayor Gary Thomasian, who cast the no vote, said Wednesday that he was not expecting Bennett's move, but was not upset over how the hearing transpired...
Thomasian's issues with the project paralleled the concerns of some 50 residents who signed a petition opposing the tower, and the position of an association governing the plaza's tenants. Those opposed said the tower would block the mountain views of people who live in the area and that it would stand well above the tallest homes, which are 36 feet tall.
Their points were countered by some 100 people, who signed a petition in favor of the project, and a representative of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said strong cell reception is paramount to public safety and that the tower would give the neighborhood its own identity...
"The city did what the city did and we'll see what happens when the next election comes up," [David] Castiglioni said. "Hopefully, that (plaza governing) association states that no cell tower is allowed."