City Council last night voted to follow recommendations by Staff and the Planning Commission to approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to allow AT&T to add equipment to an existing T-Mobile cell tower disguised as a pine tree in the City Yards. AT&T has been notorious in Sierra Madre for poor cell reception, and stated that by adding this equipment, they will be improving service on the east side of town. A second cell tower is being planned at the United Methodist Church which, if also approved, would largely eliminate the gaps in coverage AT&T customers currently must deal with in town.
Asked after the CUP approval what the time line is for the installation of the first tower, Planning Director Danny Castro told me that Plan Check is already complete. He stated that AT&T needs to complete their lease agreement (presumably with T-Mobile), and that once that is completed, they can apply for a Building Permit. Once they receive a Building Permit, they can begin construction. He stated that the new equipment could be in place by late June, early July.
He added that the application for the cell tower at the Church is already in process, and will go before the Planning Commission at its May 19th meeting. He noted that because that cell tower is not on City property as the first one is, there is no need for the CUP to go before the City Council, reducing the time frame needed to install the equipment at the West end of town. So, in theory, that equipment, if approved one month later than the equipment for the East side of town, could be installed one month later, meaning cell service in town should be greatly improved by mid-summer. Note – I did not confirm the West end time line with Mr. Castro, nor has AT&T confirmed either timeline.