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Eiffel Tower to grace skyline of Sunnyside

Last week, the city's staff review committee voted for a permanent legacy by approving a conditional use permit to construct a 120-foot tall (12-story) self-supporting steel lattice communication tower on Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District's property at 120 S. 11th St.

This project requires a 25-square foot (the size of a two-car garage) concrete base to support the structure, which will stand twice as tall as anything currently in the city. At the Dec. 13, 2006 public hearing, we stated in written comments to the staff review committee that this was too complex a project to construct under a conditional use permitting process, which normally considers "uses" that are essential or desirable to a particular community.

Through this format, only neighbors 300 yards from the site need to be notified of the applicant's intent; despite the fact that this tower will be visible from nearly all the Sunnyside community. In addition, we asked that our issues of neighborhood aesthetics, lowered property values, aircraft/pilot concerns, distracting warning devices, structural design/maintenance requirements and communication signal interferences be investigated by other agencies, consultants and engineers as part of the decision making process.

This request for additional information pertinent to the tower's placement doesn't appear to have been considered because the staff review committee in approving the tower only recommended that just the lower 30 feet of the structure be painted to match the colors of the nearby SVID buildings, as if to camouflage it somehow. How about the remaining upper 90 feet that everyone will have to look at?

Secondly, the staff review committee states that the site will be screened from Blaine Avenue; but not 11th Street, through the use of fence slats/natural vegetation. We question how a six or eight-foot high fence will do anything more than to keep someone from attempting to climb the thing. If the intent here is to screen the tower from the nearby neighbors, the fence alone would have to be taller than the tower itself.

Lastly, the staff review committee requires that the tower be lighted if the Federal Aviation Agency regulations state that it has to be. That says to us that a decision was made without hearing back from that agency, as noted as a condition of the applicant back in December. Our letter sent out about the same time to the FAA for its comments has yet to be answered by them.

There are many other existing tower sites surrounding our city that could easily accommodate or duplicate any need for constructing this SVID tower. If constructed as proposed, it would be a constant reminder to every citizen that it does not belong in our neighborhood, nor within the city limits of the community.

/s/ Gary and Cheryl Pira, Sunnyside

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