Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Gurnee Planning and Zoning Board - April 17, 2013

Village of Gurnee
Planning and Zoning Board Minutes
April 17, 2013

1.  Call to Order and Roll Call

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m.

Planning & Zoning Board Members present:  Chairman James Sula, Richard McFarlane, Sharon Salmons, Gwen Broughton, David Nordentoft, Richard Twitchell & Edwin Paff

Planning & Zoning Board Members absent:   none

Other Officials present:  Tracy Velkover, Planning Manager, and David Ziegler, Community Development Director
2.  Pledge of Allegiance

3.  Public Comment

Mr. Sula asked if anyone from the public had any questions or comments regarding anything not on the
the evening’s agenda.   As there were no responses, Chairman Sula closed the floor to the public on the matter.

4.  Approval of the Planning and Zoning Board’s April 3, 2013 meeting minutes.

A motion to approve the minutes was made by Ms. Salmons, and seconded by Mr. McFarlane.

Voice vote: 
All "Ayes", no "Nays", none abstaining
Motion carried:  7-0-0

5.  Minor Sign Exception:  Lake County Administration (1325 Tri-State Parkway)

Mr. Sula stated that the County of Lake is seeking a minor sign exception to allow an existing ground sign for a multi-tenant office development, located at 1325 Tri-State Parkway, to identify the County’s Administrative Offices.  The Village’s sign ordinance requires that ground signs for multi-tenant office developments provide at least 40% of the sign area to the name and address of the development, with the remaining 60% allowed for identification of up to 4 tenants.

Ms. Velkover stated that the County is subleasing a portion of the building located at 1325 Tri-State Parkway beginning in April of 2013.  This space will accommodate various County administrative functions while they are rehabbing their existing offices in downtown Waukegan.  The construction phase is expected to last until the winter of 2014, and their sublease is structured to run through this timeframe.  Therefore, they will be occupying the building for only a short time.  The building is one of four buildings located on property that is under joint ownership.   Most of the buildings on this property house multiple tenants.  As a multi-tenant office development, the Village’s sign ordinance requires that 40% of the area of any monument sign for the development identify the name and address of the development.  The remaining 60% of the sign can identify up to 4 businesses within the development. 
The development has 3 existing monument signs.  A copy of a plan showing the location of these signs, as well as drawings of all three signs, is provided in the packet.  All three signs were installed prior to the adoption of the current sign ordinance.  Under the existing sign ordinance, the site would only be allowed to have two ground signs.  Ms. Velkover stated that the ordinance allows the re-facing of legal non-conforming signs, as long as no structural alterations are completed to the sign. 

The County of Lake, with the property owner’s approval, is seeking a minor sign exception to allow the re-facing of one of the existing ground signs to reflect the County’s Administrative offices.  The sign proposed for re-facing is a sign that currently identifies only one business in the office complex.  The other two signs that exist anchor the west and east ends of the office complex.  These signs reflect the name of the business complex and addresses of the buildings in the complex, even though their installation predated the currently sign ordinance.  These signs are proposed to remain the same.

Lake County’s rationale for granting the minor exception includes the following:

1)  The sign face they are proposing to replace does not currently meet the requirement;
2)  There are already two larger existing monument signs at both ends of the park which list the office 
      center’s name and building addresses;
3)  This sign is temporary in nature, as Lake County’s occupancy of this building is slated at 20 months or
      less; and
4)  The request is consistent with the stated goals of the sign ordinance.

Ms. Velkover stated that the goals of the sign ordinance were provided in the board’s packet.

Mr. Jon Joy, Construction Project Manager for the County, stated that he is there to answer any questions the Board may have.

Mr. Sula asked if the PZB has the final say on this matter.

Ms. Velkover said that the request is for a minor sign exception and the PZB has the final say on these matters.

Mr. Sula stated that the request is reasonable, since there are existing signs on the site that reflect the business park’s name and building addresses.  He noticed that the signs are difficult to see due to landscaping and berming.  He asked if any of the plant material could be trimmed.

Ms. Velkover stated that the owner could work with the Village’s Forester on this issue.  She noted that there is an existing evergreen tree that is blocking views of the sign and that is it difficult to trim an evergreen tree.  However, the Village’s Forester can be consulted with on this matter.

Mr. McFarlane stated that the plans reflect optional colors for the base of the sign; blue and brown.  He stated that, in his opinion, the base should remain brown as it will match the other signs in the office complex.   Mr. Nordentoft stated that he agreed with this comment.

Mr. McFarlane motioned, seconded by Ms. Broughton, to approve the minor sign exception requested by the County of Lake.

Roll Call Vote:
"Ayes":                        McFarlane, Salmons, Nordentoft, Twitchell, Broughton, Paff & Sula
"Nays":                       None
Abstaining:                  None
Motion Carried:          7-0-0

6.  Public Hearing:  Special Use Permit for Village of Gurnee on behalf of AT&T (Cellular Phone Company)

Ms. Velkover stated that the Village of Gurnee, on behalf of AT&T, is requesting a Special Use Permit (SUP) to allow the construction of a wireless antenna facility consisting of a new 190-foot tall monopole tower immediately south of the existing ground shelter building.  The tower currently supports 3 cellular carriers’ antennas and the proposal is for 2 carriers to locate on the monopole immediately (AT&T and Verizon).  The tower will be designed to support future co-location of antennas for up to 5 cellular carriers, including the possibility of antennas for other Village communication needs if required in the future.  The Village’s code requires that when a new tower is installed, that it provide for co-location opportunities.   A decorative wrought iron fence, similar to the fence associated with the monopole tower at the Police Station site, would surround the monopole, equipment area, and associated cabling for security purposes. The ground shelter building and related support equipment already exist and no changes are proposed as part of this special use.

Ms. Velkover stated that the special use permit is requested because the Village’s existing 50-year old, 160-foot tall water tower is slated for removal in the near future.  The removal is due to the tower’s small size (i.e., the tower is not needed to provide water for Gurnee residents) and because it will soon require maintenance/repainting that would be a significant reoccurring cost.  Ms. Velkover said that the Village is obligated to provide continual service to the cellular carriers on the water tower via lease agreements.  The monopole structure is proposed south and slightly west of the current equipment shelter location and will allow cellular carriers to migrate their equipment over while keeping their service running at all times.  Following the completion of the monopole, the water tower would be fully decommissioned and removed from the property.

Ms. Velkover stated that a petition for a new tall monopole tower requires a special use permit per the Village’s Personal Wireless Services Facilities (PWSF) ordinance.  That ordinance stipulates that an application must not only meet the regular special use permit standards (13.11), but must also meet specific standards established for PWSF. Ms. Velkover stated that she would address each of the standards and how the Village believes that the standards are met.  She was sworn in by the Village Attorney. 

In regards to the first standard, that the SUP will not endanger public health, safety or general welfare, she stated that the site contains an existing water tower that is over 50 years old.  Removing and replacing it with a new monopole will provide more structural integrity, occupy less space on the ground (seven feet in diameter at grade), have less mass above grade that could block light and air, and require less maintenance.  Therefore, the operation of the special use will result in a safer, more compact and aesthetically pleasing situation that will not be detrimental to or endanger the health, safety, or general welfare of the public.

In regards to the second standard, that the SUP will not be injurious to the use and enjoyment of other property in the immediate area for purposes already permitted, nor substantially diminish and impair property values in the neighborhood, Ms. Velkover stated that the property currently contains a 200,000 gallon water tower that has substantial mass.  It is also over 50 years old.  Removing and replacing it with a new monopole that has a smaller footprint and less mass above grade, even though it will be taller, will result in less visual distraction.  Therefore, it will not be injurious to the use and enjoyment of the adjacent property, nor substantially diminish or impair property values within the neighborhood.

In regards to the third standard, that the SUP will not impede the normal and orderly development and improvement of property for uses permitted in the district, Ms. Velkover stated that there is no known change that is proposed to either the subject site or the use established on the adjoining properties.  The monopole structure has been located in a manner that takes into account fire truck maneuvering in and out of the site, and any servicing needed for the tower and antennas.  Therefore, the Village believes that the new monopole will not impede the normal and orderly development and improvement of surrounding property for uses permitted, nor the use of the surrounding properties as currently improved.

In regards to the fourth SUP standard, that adequate utilities, access road, drainage and/or other necessary facilities have been or are being provided, Ms. Velkover stated that the site is already improved with access and utilities.  The new facility will provide proper drainage.  Safety is addressed by the provision of an ornamental fence, similar to the fence around the T-Mobile monopole and equipment building on the Police Station site.

In regards to the fifth standard, that adequate measures have been or will be taken to provide ingress and egress so as to minimize traffic congestion in public streets, Ms. Velkover noted that the proposed monopole will not interfere with the existing traffic circulation on-site.    The existing ingress and egress was constructed to handle very large fire trucks, so the minimal traffic added by the location of the monopole tower should not negatively impact ingress and egress or cause congestion on public streets. 

Finally, in regard to the last standard required for a SUP, Ms. Velkover stated that no formal written protest has been received pertaining to the proposed special use. 

Next, Ms. Velkover addressed the specific standards that have to be met for a SUP for a new monopole tower per the Village’s PWSF ordinance.  The ordinance, she stated, requires that existing tall structures be investigated to determine if they can be used to locate antennas versus constructing a new tall tower structure.  She noted that the area was investigated.  The only tall structure nearby is an existing monopole structure on the Public Works site that is already fully occupied with cell carrier antennas.  She noted that another tower structure is on the Police Station property, but that this tower is too far away from the site to cover the gap in service resulting from the removal of the antennas from the water tower. The PWSF ordinance also requires that the height of a new tower be the lowest possible height to allow the facility to function and the lowest height to allow co-location.   She noted that the proposed tower height is 190-feet, which is taller than the water tower that currently is at full capacity with 3 carriers’ antennas.  The additional height will allow for additional carriers, as well as provide an opportunity for public service antennas, should there be a need in the future.  The PWSF ordinance promotes co-location, as it recognizes that it is better to have a single tower that is higher and allows for multiple carriers than to have multiple single or dual carrier towers.  She also noted that the ordinance establishes a setback requirement based on the height of the structure.  She said that an exhibit (Exhibit A) has been provided in the packets that shows distances from the residential zoned property.  The required setback, 1 foot for every 2 feet of tower height, limits the tower location.  The area north into the woods would not work as the tower needs to be close to the monopole as the two are joined with cabling.  When the distance between the tower and the equipment increases, the diameter of the cabling increases to a point where it’s not physically possible to make the connection.   Any other location, including where the existing water tower is located, would require a variance as the setback required by the PWSF ordinance is not met.   Finally, no changes are proposed to the ground level building with this application.

Mr. Bob Stapleton, from AT&T, introduced himself and stated he was there to answer any questions that may arise.

Mr. Sula asked Mr. Stapleton if AT&T was in favor of the proposal, and Mr. Stapleton responded that it was.

Ms. Velkover read a letter from Mr. Patrick J. Edwards (attached), of 4528 W. Old Grand, who was not able to attend the hearing, but wanted to make his thoughts known on this matter.  In the letter, Mr. Edwards expressed that he is not in favor of the proposed location.  He elaborated that he was concerned about the potential impact on the view to and from his property and that of others in the area.  He proposed either using the same location as the water tower, or that the pole placed into the woods to the north.  He also expressed that he would not be in favor of any new sets of cable being unburied, regardless of which location is chosen, as he felt it would disrupt the aesthetics of the area.

Mr. Paff stated that he understands why the tower cannot be located in the woods to the north.  However, he stated that he didn’t understand why the cabling between the tower and the equipment shelter was going to be above grade.

Mr. Stapleton stated that the equipment shelter is above grade due to the floodplain on the property.  He stated that AT&T will have about a 15 foot run from the tower to the antenna and that the cabling will be placed on the ice bridge.

Mr. Ziegler clarified that the distance to run the cabling under the ice bridge between the tower and the equipment is about the same as the distance that the cabling would be run down from the equipment shelter (then buried) and then back up the tower before entering the tower above the floodplain.  He noted that the cabling cannot enter the tower below the floodplain elevation.  Therefore, burying the cabling doesn’t really reduce the amount that would be visible.  It would just be vertical runs instead of a horizontal run.

Ms. Salmons asked what an ice bridge is. 

Ms. Stapleton stated that it is a metal structure that is used to run cabling between the tower and the equipment.  The structure protects the cabling from becoming covered in ice, which can result in damage to the cables.

Mr. Sula asked about the diameter of the cabling.

Mr. Stapleton stated that each cable is about 1 5/8” thick and there are typically 6 cables. In addition, there are 6 stands of fiber. 

Ms. Salmons asked if someone could take a chain saw to the cables and sever them.

Mr. Stapleton stated that this could happen.  However, that is why they are proposing a wrought iron fence around the perimeter of the facility.  They prefer an open fence so that if someone were to climb over the police can see in.  He noted that security is an issue for every cell site, especially since their cabling is copper and copper is the most stolen commodity.

Mr. Paff asked how long remains on the lease for the current carriers.

Mr. Ziegler stated that the carriers are approximately half way through their leases.  He stated that the leases were for 5 years and that they could renew without action a total of 5 times.  So the leases spanned a total of 25 years.

Mr. Twitchell clarified that the maximum height of the structure, including the lighting rod, would be less than 200 feet. He also stated the tower is not located in any air space for an airport and therefore, would not contain any lighting on top.

Mr. Stapleton stated that both these statements are correct.

Mr. Twitchell stated that AT&T is currently at 140 feet on the water tower and is proposing to locate at 150 feet on the monopole.  He asked why they didn’t choose the 190-foot height.

Mr. Stapleton stated that, at this time, they do not need this height.  However, he didn’t rule out the possibility that they may need or want that height in the future (i.e., whether temporarily to get above the water tower until its removal or permanently due to technology/other changes).

Mr. McFarlane expressed concern with the views into the base of the tower/cabling and equipment shelter area.  He noted that there exists some trees and shrubs and is worried about the removal of material to accommodate the tower.

Ms. Velkover stated that there is an ash tree to the south that has to be removed due to ash bore disease.  In addition, a number of shrubs will have to be removed.  The evergreen trees to the east are in questionable shape, but are going to try to be preserved.  She noted that additional material will be planted, where possible, to screen views.  The Village Forester will have a landscape plan prior to the Village Board meeting, for the board to consider. 

Mr. McFarlane also asked who owned the equipment shelter buildings.  He stated that they could use a can of paint; specifically the trim.
Addressing Mr. Edward’s letter, Mr. Sula stated that he still felt the location proposed by staff makes sense, as placing it where the water tower is currently at would be closer to residentially zoned land and require a variance.
Mr. Nordentoft stated that the requested special use permit meets not only the regular standards for a SUP, but also those specifically associated with a PWSF.  Therefore, Mr. Nordentoft motioned, seconded by Ms. Broughton, to forward a favorable recommendation on the petition of the Village of Gurnee, on behalf of AT&T, for a Special Use Permit (SUP) to construct a wireless antenna facility consisting of a new 190-foot tall monopole tower immediately south of the existing ground shelter building.

Roll Call Vote:
"Ayes":                        McFarlane, Salmons, Nordentoft, Twitchell, Broughton, Paff & Sula
"Nays":                       None
Abstaining:                     None
Motion Carried:       7-0-0

7.  Next Meeting Date:  April 17, 2013

Ms. Velkover stated that the PZB has a public hearing set for May 1st.

8.  Adjournment

Chairman Sula asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting. 

Ms. Broughton made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Mr. Nordentoft
Voice vote: 
All "Ayes", no "Nays", none abstaining
Motion carried:   7-0-0

The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Joann Metzger
Planning and Zoning Board Secretary