HOLTVILLE — After a bleak city budget assessment by Holtville council member, Richard Layton, and an equally passionate plea from concerned citizens on the Conditional Use Permit for Clear Talk Wireless to place a cellular tower at the Ralph Samaha Park in Holtville, the city voted to deny the telecommunication tower placement.
Layton spoke about the city’s lack of fiscal revenue, especially after Governor Brown revoked all California cities’ Redevelopment funds.
“Our city basically is on welfare, if it wasn’t for grants we would be in dire straits. City workers have not had a raise in five years,” Layton told the crowded room.
The cell tower would bring approximately $10,000 to the city treasury in lease payments.
However, the citizens that filled the room were not happy with the location- the popular Samaha Park that houses a baseball field, pool, tennis court, and a soccer area. Many expressed wariness of the footprint of the tower right in the midst of the athletic fields and others sited the recently toppled wind propeller in Ocotillo as a potential danger to the inhabitants of the popular park.
Christina Toten, a Holtville mom involved in her children’s sports, didn’t oppose the city leasing space to Clear Talk for a telecommunications tower, but objected to the city leasing space at Samaha park.
“Why weren’t other lots looked at for availability? Why does it have to be the most used park? It is too close to the first base line of the baseball field, I can see kids getting hurt fielding foul balls or reaching for missed throws,” Toten said.
Clear Talk first approached Holtville City Council in June of 2015. The Holtville planning commission and the city were generally agreeable to the cell tower proposal. Many citizens felt differently, specifically on the park location.
Eileen Ponton filed an appeal to the Holtville planning commission to protect her property she owns to the east of the proposed tower. Her appeal was based on her contention placement of cell towers in residential neighborhoods negatively affects property values. She was the only person to file in the time limits (within the ten days that the planning commissioners rendered their decision on September 19, 2016) and pay the fee of $120.00.
The city voted down her appeal to the findings of the planning commission, but on the next action item voted to turn down approving the lease agreement with Clear Talk Wireless for a Cellular Tower to be placed in Ralph Samaha Park. It is unclear if Clear Talk will look for another location.