The council last week approved the installation of a 77-foot monopole wireless telecommunication facility, which will be disguised as a pine tree. The faux tree cell tower will go up behind the Golden Chopstick restaurant on Main Street within Oakley Town Center.
“The tree will be installed within an existing landscape island where two trees currently exist and will remain at the construction site,” reported Oakley Senior Planner Joshua McMurray. “The tree will have three levels at which antennas may be placed. AT&T antennas will occupy the 70-foot level, with two additional carries to be located at the 50- and 60-foot levels.”
The pole will be textured and painted to look like bark, and synthetic branches will be installed to make it look as lifelike as possible. The antennas will be hidden within the branches and painted to match the tree needles to create a uniform design.
Councilwoman Pat Anderson questioned why the tower was designed to look like a pine tree since the city is named for its heritage of oak tree groves, but the AT&T representative told the council that an artificial pine tree provides better camouflage and height for antennae and looks more realistic than an artificial oak.
Councilman Bruce Connelley joked that the tower would look like a large Christmas tree and asked the representative if the city could decorate it for the holidays. The representative said it was possible but discouraged the idea.
Since the cell tower will resemble a tree, warning signs will be posted around it to discourage climbing. A 7-foot block wall will also be built around the tree to prevent tampering.
After the 4-0 vote (Councilman Kevin Romick abstained since he lives within 300 feet of the build site), Mayor Carol Rios said, “I hope some of you will be happy now that you’ll have better service with your AT&T.”
Also during last week’s meeting, the council approved to hire two consultants to help the city better understand the California Energy Commission’s study involving the proposed power plant at the former Dupont Property on Bridgehead Road.
The city hired Manuel O. Cañalita, who has more than 35 years of experience in the electrical transmission and generation industry, and the law firm of Jarvis, Fay, Doporto & Gibson, which is familiar with CEC procedures and power plant proposals. Radback Energy, the company that has proposed to build the Oakley Generating Station, agreed to pay the consultants’ fees for as long as their services are retained by the city.
Although the proposed plant is located within city limits, the city of Oakley has no vote on whether or not the plant will be built. Since the decision rests entirely with the CEC, all Oakley can do is be involved in the overall discussion surrounding the proposed plant. The CEC investigation is expected to take 12 to 18 months, but in that time the commission will host a series of public hearings and workshops to get input from city staff as well as the public.
Cañalita told the council the first step in the process is to be present at the first site visit, which is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 9. A public informational hearing and environmental scoping meeting will be held following the site visit at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. During this time, members of the commission will be available to discuss the project and take comments from the public and city staff. For more information, visit www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/contracosta.
PG&E announced earlier this month that it plans to buy the plant if the CEC approves construction.
In other news, the council approved a conditional use permit allowing Antioch residents David and Kerry Dorn to open Delta Dog Camp at the old Bonanza building on Main Street. The dog boarding and doggie daycare facility is expected to be open by the end of the year.
The council also voted to lease City Hall office space for use by a field representative for State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan.