Wednesday, August 31 , 2016, 4:49 pm | Fair 78º

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Local News

Santa Barbara County Supervisors Give Conditional Approval of Cell Sites in Montecito

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday upheld an appeal filed by a company seeking to place numerous cell tower nodes and areas of cable in Montecito.

Crown Castle is the company working to install the infrastructure in order to increase the capacity of the Verizon cell network in the area.

The item was last before the Montecito Planning Commission earlier this summer, and resulted in a seven-hour hearing. 

The company has made 162 design changes since the beginning of the design process, said Crown Castle's Sharon James, including getting rid of two cell nodes and reducing the size of the battery back-up systems that had caused the ire of neighbors.

"We feel we've done just about everything we could," she said.

Montecito resident John Gura said that one of the antennas would sit near his driveway and that the aesthetics in the area "are very unique," asking that the utility pole be removed as trenching begins in the area.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted that the company can move forward on the coast and inland portions of the project, with conditions.

The board asked that a new permit application be submitted to move the utility pole near Gura's home that would no longer be needed after trenching begins. 

Another condition was that Crown Castle's trenching of underground utilities would not impede neighbors' work to improve Bella Vista Road.

One point of contention, the back-up battery units that opponents said presented an eyesore, would be eliminated from the plans because they are not required by federal law.

"That was a major part of the blight that the community would have to endure," said Supervisor Salud Carbajal, whose district includes the cell towers.

Earlier in the meeting, he said the Crown Castle plans had "evolved dramatically" throughout the design process.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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