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Planning Commission



FEBRUARY 21, 2006


The Regular Meeting of the Planning Commission of the City of Highland was called to order at 6:04 p.m. by Chairman Haller at the Donahue Council Chambers, 27215 Base Line, Highland, California.

Present: Commissioners John Gamboa and Gina Birnbaum, R. Paul Scott, Vice Chairman Randall Hamerly and Chairman Richard Haller

Absent: None

Staff Present:Rick C. Hartmann, Community Development Director

Lawrence A. Mainez, City Planner

Sean Kelleher, Assistant Planner

Linda McKeough, Administrative Secretary

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Chairman Haller.


There was none.


There were no items.


There were no items.


5.1 Request for a Development Code Interpretation (DCI 006-001) of a proposed Wireless Tower Facility. (Nextel Communications.) The location is City-wide.

Chairman Haller introduced the item and called for Staff's presentation.

Assistant Planner Kelleher gave the presentation from the Staff Report. He explained the Project's location and design, how there would be flashing lights atop the Tower with the lights being either red or white in color and that the Project is within the Fire Safety Zone I. He then concluded Staff's presentation and indicated the Applicant is currently not present at tonight's Meeting.

Chairman Haller asked if the Commission had questions of Staff.

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding the Mono-palm and Mono-pine design and the feasibility of planting pine trees within the Project's location. Staff stated the installation pine trees will have to be researched, but indicated in the City's General Plan that palm trees are strongly discouraged and that pine trees are not in character of the area.

Further discussion ensued regarding the flashing lights atop of the Tower. Staff explained they were of the understanding that the lights atop area new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Regulation for all towers. Height restrictions of thirty-five feet (35'), the Redlands Municipal Airport, how an aircraft could crash into more than just a Monopole Tower at thirty-five feet (35') i.e. trees, buildings / structures, etc. were also discussed.

Comments were made by the Commissioners stating how a Mono-paIm Tower located in Redlands has a flashing light and can be seen for a long distance, and the Minor Design Review process for consideration. Further comments by the Commission included how the Commission was surprised the Wireless Telecommunication Ordinance considered a Monopole Facility as a Minor Design Review or Staff approval and how the Facility should go through a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process and the need for co-location of said Facilities. City Planner Mainez responded there is a need for a Code interpretation for "Stealth Facilities" because the Applicant requested such a Tower of thirty-five feet (35') and did not need a tall Tower. The "Stealth Facilities" with the proposed Tower is to be located in the Agricultural / Equestrian (Ag / Eq) District up to thirty-five feet (35') high and consistent with the Zoning District height limit. Staff continued and reiterated how the lack of other live Palm trees on tall structures in this proposed area, and possible Fire Zone prohibition of planting live trees has lead Staff to believe the proposed Mono-palm Tower is not a "Stealth Facility" under the Ordinance.

Commissioner Gamboa stated he felt the same way as City Planner Mainez's thoughts and how the Tower will "stick out" no matter what.

A question was asked about the Fuel Modification Zone and a scenario was provided for the Tower and how live trees as part of a grove would be needed to hide the Tower. Staff responded certain trees can be planted in a Fire Zone I and the some areas of the City, trees have been reduced / modified and the need for a one-hundred foot (100') swath as a burn perimeter to keep from encroaching into a residential area and Staff added the feasibility / possibility of that kind of mitigation and would have to be researched by Staff.

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding how the property located to the north will be coming for review soon (Calvary Church on Greenspot Road) and its parking lot and will also have wildlands fire issue. The Commission indicated there is a broader picture here how the "Stealth Facility" could be located within the Church's steeple structure. A mono-tower is not "Stealth" and looks like a "pipe cleaner looking" pine tree. A suggestion was made for the "Stealth Facility" be located a structure / tower, and the proposed Calvary Chapel was used as an example, but as a stand alone Tower, it would impact the existing / proposed residential area to the east.

A question was asked regarding the amount of setback from a residential area. Staff responded two hundred feet (200'). Staff added for a Major Review, that seventy-five percent (75%) of the Tower setback from the property line of a residential zoned area while a Major Facility Tower is two hundred feet (200') setback from the property line of a residential zoned area .

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding the Chapter 16.45 of the Highland Municipal Code, (Page 21 of the Staff Report) relative to stealth facilities and buildings / structures.

A suggestion was made by Vice Chairman Hamerly to interpret the Ordinance on the conservative side.

There being no further questions of Staff, Chairman Haller asked if the Applicant would like to make a presentation.

Ms. Jane Norine, 5942 Midiran, Huntington Beach, California, who is a Representative of Nextel, addressed the Commission. She stated she represents Nextel plus other telephone service carriers. She explained the definition of "Stealth" and the lights atop of the Tower Facility is an FAA requirement and how FAA makes determinations based on the height and location of the Facility.

A question was asked regarding the flight path distance.

Ms. Norine responded and provided a five mile scenario. She further stated there is no coverage for this area and the height restriction is thirty-five feet (35') in the Zoning District and believed the FAA restriction is fifty to sixty feet (50' - 60') and added in the industrial area of Ontario, a height restriction of twenty-five feet (25') was given. Ms. Norine explained the line-of-sight technology, the architectural feature totally conceals the proposed Facility. With regards to the project to the east (the Church) is also zoned Ag / Eq and would be tough to provide services at a thirty-five foot (35') height restriction. She further explained design options i.e. Mono-Palm, Mono-Pine, Mono-Elm, Water Tank, Windmill and how Staff proposed a Windmill design at a sixty foot (60') height and the Facility would be hidden with the Windmill design. Ms. Norine indicated Staff did not like the Windmill design and is unable to do at the thirty-five foot (35') height. She added how Nextel installed a Water Tank design facility located at the 71 / 57 Freeways and has also built many other facility designs.

Discussion ensued between the Commission, Ms. Norine and Staff regarding height restrictions, setbacks, and how the proposed Facility would relate to structures. Staff explained that portion of the City will be a low silhouette and how a two-story home is only between twenty-four feet and twenty-seven feet (24' - 27') in height. The maximum height of accessory structures is fifteen feet (15') and the Water Tank height and how the Code interpretation will have a City-wide impact and the Application process were also discussed.

A suggestion was made by the Commission about encouraging any cellular facility to co-locate and commented would rather have one facility that is forty feet to fifty feet (40' - 50') tall than four or five facilities at thirty-five feet (35'). In addition, another suggestion was made that the Facility needs to look believable and screened to mitigate the impact. A question was asked regarding the feasibility of contacting East Highlands Ranch site to install on its tower at the EHR RV Storage site. Staff responded the EHR site is outside the needed radius. Staff responded trees cannot be placed around co-location facilities and by Ordinance, the Facility's Applicant needs to demonstrate to the City that the Facility is needed. The area is a dead zone and the Church will be constructed and Staff assumed the Church will have commitments on its site. This could start a proliferation of towers, and need to provide better screening.

Discussion ensued between the Commission, Ms. Norine and Staff regarding at the end of Greenspot Road will be a high end residential area, plus a Church will be located in that area. Ms. Norine stated that it is not unusual for wireless carriers to be located next to residents in a 3/4 mile radius and has installed facilities in Rancho Cucamonga where there are multi-million dollar homes are located. A comment was made regarding how one of the Commissioners had seen the Water Tank facility by the 71 Freeway and was unable to tell the Water Tank was a facility.

The Commission reiterated encouragement to the Applicant of co-locating the proposed Facility and the feasibility the Applicant would be the first one in with the CUP process followed by with other carriers. Ms. Norine responded stating the carriers are attracted to co-location facilities. She explained the technology that Nextel is using is the European technology and how Cingular, Verizon and others are coming to town as carriers.

Chairman Haller asked if the Commission had questions of the Applicant.

There were none.

Chairman Haller asked if anyone else would like to speak on the item.

There were none.

A question was asked if the Applicant would have to go through the CUP process with a Major Tower for co-location. Staff responded affirmatively.

Vice Chairman Hamerly indicated he preferred a CUP for Cell Towers.

A motion was made by Vice Chairman Hamerly and seconded by Commissioner Scott the Mono-Palm Wireless Structure is a Major Facility and for the Applicant to proceed through the Conditional Use Permit process with a taller Tower / Facility and encourage co-location and directed Staff to prepare a Resolution for the Commission's consideration at its next Regular Meeting.

Motion unanimously passed on a 5 - 0 vote.

5.2 Request for a Development Code Interpretation (DCI 006-002). The location is City-wide. Representative: DuWaite Construction and Engineering.

Chairman Haller introduced the item and called for Staff's presentation.

Assistant Planner Kelleher gave the presentation from the Staff Report. He explained the Project's location and design, and Staff's interpretation to the Commission.

Chairman Haller asked if the Commission had questions of Staff.

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding there is only one entry exterior stairs located at the back side of the structure, the design / definitions of a carport and patio, how the proposed Breezeway with the attached patio is the Applicant's interpretation, and how if the Breezeway could go to a maximum height of thirty-five feet (35') if it is attached and the existing house is a two-story structure. If the Breezeway is determined to be an accessory structure, it can go only as high as the house is. One of the Commissioners indicated an issue had come up recently with a project he was working on and that particular City's Building Official had made the interpretation if a Breezeway is touching or making contact with the main structure, that it is defined as an attached structure even if it is a trellis. Staff responded that is what our City's Building Official stated and Planning defers and explained rooms over garages with exterior stairs. Staff added regarding accessory structures and how Codes have changed regarding accessory structures relative to single story structures or fifteen feet (15') in height.

Further discussion ensued regarding Development Code, Building and Safety Code and the proposed new detached garage construction. A comment was made that most porches, breezeways usually will get enclosed at some point in time. If so, does the Building Official inspect footings, beams, etc. Staff responded if the Breezeway becomes enclosed, there is a bigger problem and need to have the Applicant look at the bigger picture.

Comments were made by the Commission if the Breezeway if coming off the covered porch and not the main structure, the Commissioner has a problem with that and then the Applicant will have a bigger porch with a breezeway and appears the Applicant is trying to go around the Code. Staff responded the Applicant intends using as a guest room. Other comments were made then probably the area will be enclosed at a later time and how a single-story house having a two-story accessory.

A question was asked if this Interpretation would be City-wide and Staff responded affirmatively and provided a scenario to the Commission regarding a detached structure having less than 120 square feet and the need to have ten feet (10') of separation between two structures for light and ventilation and asked the Commission for some assistance / guidance.

Commissioners Birnbaum, Scott and Chairman Haller stated (the proposed Breezeway) is a detached structure. Staff stated patio covers / breezeways not habitable and even at International Council of Building Officials (ICBO) level states that includes screened porches and breezeways. Staff further stated how Staff had encouraged the Applicant to beef it up, but the Applicant wants it detached. Staff added when the plans were originally submitted, there was no Breezeway shown on the plans and how there is a conflict between Planning and Building and Safety.

Commissioner Birnbaum stated the structures are still detached and Vice Chairman Hamerly stated it would do a better job to link together.

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding side yard setbacks on the streetside, and if the home is a historic home and in an Historic District. Staff explained the home is not in an Historic District, but is historic in character and could be historically significant. A question was asked if the Wilson House was across from the proposed Project and Staff responded affirmatively. Commissioner Gamboa stated the structures are detached.

Chairman Haller asked if the Commission had any further questions of Staff. Hearing none, he then called for the question.

A motion was made by Commissioner Birnbaum and seconded by Commissioner Gamboa the use of a Breeze-way / Patio Cover to connect a single-family residence to a Garage / Guest Room does not constitute an attached addition.

Motion unanimously passed on a 5 - 0 vote.


Staff explained there will be a Planners Institute Conference in March, this year, in Monterey.

Staff explained there will be a Regular Meeting scheduled at 6:00 p.m. for the proposed Resolution from tonight's Meeting and Minutes for consideration.

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding FPPC decisions on conflicts of interest for the Commissioners and whether or not if the Commissioners would want the City Attorney or themselves to prepare letters regarding the details for the General Plan Update perspective. Staff further explained if the Commission would e-mail Staff with its list of questions and what needs to be more definitive. Chairman Haller stated he would prepare some questions and encouraged the other Commissioners to do so.

Further discussion ensued regarding EHR HOA and fees, conflict of interest, appraisal of $2,000 or +/-value, EHR common areas, Fuel Modification Areas, EHR Board Membership, lettered lots, and trails. A comment was made how it appears that anything associated with EHR can be a conflict of interest.

(Note: Commissioner Scott left the Chambers at 7:05 p.m.)

Discussion continued regarding non-developable property (in the EHR), precludes participation, but resides in the EHR, the need to get a determination and separation of EHR areas out of the 500 foot radius and examples were given. Comments were made how existing entitlements, conflicts of interest, aesthetic opinions affect amenities. Staff stated discretionary approval and there is a distinction between ministerial categories. Chairman Haller reiterated for the Commissioners to provide their questions to Staff.

(Note: Commissioner Scott returned at 7:08 p.m.)

Staff asked which Commissioners were interested in attending the Planners Institute in Monterey. Chairman Haller had already contacted Staff interested in attending and that Commissioners Birnbaum, Gamboa also were interested. Commissioner Scott and Vice Chairman Hamerly would be unable to attend.


There being no further business, Chairman Haller declared the meeting adjourned at 7:08 p.m.

Submitted by: Approved by:

Linda McKeough, Richard Haller, Chairman

Administrative Secretary Planning Commission


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