Wrapping up months of city staff work on the subject, members of the El Paso City Council have given their approval to amendments governing the construction of new cell towers.
Earlier this year, the council voted to cap such structures at no more than 60 feet in height, but also agreed to let the city’s Plan Commission study the issue with the possibility of modifying the new regulations in the future.
Two months later the Plan Commission, looking at what is officially called the city’s personal wireless service facility regulations, recommended not only exceptions to the 60-foot rule, but also working guidelines to “assure a degree of predictability and consistency in the review process.”
The commission also adopted a provision calling for the builders of new towers to camouflage them in an effort to better blend in with surrounding neighborhoods.
Now, on a 5 to 4 vote, the City Council has agreed to maintain the 60-foot height maximum largely for residential areas, while also leaving the door open for heights of up to 75 and 90 feet in commercial, manufacturing, and industrial districts by special permit.
The construction of new cell phone towers, which includes concrete slabs, fencing, backup generators, and security systems, remains a big business in El Paso as well as pretty much every place else in the country.
According to the publication Airwave Advisors, such structures can cost up to $250,000 and more to build.
By Garry Boulard
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