More than two years after the Yolo County Board of Supervisors first approved a use permit that would allow Results Radio to erect a 365-foot radio tower in the Yolo County Central Landfill, the issue returns to the board again on Tuesday.
In between the initial approval in September 2010 and now, the project has gone through numerous public hearings, an extension of the use permit in 2011, administrative appeals and a lawsuit. The foundation of the tower has been constructed at the landfill, as has an accessory equipment building, but the tower itself remains unbuilt, the result of delays in the FCC permitting process as well as ongoing opposition from wildlife groups and nearby residents.
Now, representatives of UC Davis student-run KDVS radio say time is running out for them.
Former general manager Neil Ruud told supervisors last month that if the project is delayed any further, the tower may eventually go up, “but KDVS will be pushed off it.”
“We have another deadline with the FCC in February,” Ruud told supervisors. “We have to have antenna and transmitter up and running and submit tests to the FCC. We’re already pushing up against this deadline (and) we cannot push it back any further. If we get pushed back, our permit will expire and other stations will move in and we’ll be stuck broadcasting just in Davis.”
Currently KDVS broadcasts from a radio tower on Kerr Hall, but it’s not tall enough to legally protect KDVS’ signal beyond the immediate area, Ruud said.
Since 1996, KDVS staff has been looking for potential sites to build a taller tower and they were approached by Results Radio in 2009 with the offer of co-locating on a proposed radio tower at the landfill. The tower would also serve Results Radio station KMJE in Woodland.
From the start, the project was opposed by environmentalists who feared the impact on birds as well as residents of north Davis, who believed the tower, with its blinking strobe lights, would be a visual blight for those living on the northern perimeter of the city.
Changes to the initial proposal intended to allay concerns included the removal of guy wires which were considered a particularly dangerous hazard to birds. After numerous public hearings, the board approved a one-year use permit for the tower in 2010. But delays in FCC permitting led Results Radio to request a one-year extension of the use permit in July 2011. The extension was granted but appealed by opponents, bringing the issue back before supervisors in a packed hearing last December.
There opponents voiced the same concerns they had had from the start, including fears of bird strikes and light pollution.
But supervisors were essentially unmoved. Noting that nothing about the project had changed since the initial approval, Supervisor Jim Provenza of Davis said at the time, “To approve a project and then go back (on it) would set a terrible precedent … It’s important when we approve a project that we send a message to businesses that they can rely on our decisions.”
The board would unanimously deny opponents’ appeal.
Now, a year later, the issue returns to the board, this time as a result of a lawsuit filed in Yolo County Superior Court by opponents.
In a ruling last month, the court sided with the county on zoning issues opponents raised, as well as on opponents’ claim that the county lacked authority to extend the use permit.
But the court found that in extending the use permit, the county did not properly consider whether there was previously unavailable new information or changed circumstances since the original permit was issued that might require additional environmental review.
After further analysis, county staff reported that there is no new information or changed circumstances that would require a supplemental environmental review and will urge supervisors on Tuesday to adopt findings to that effect.
“No changes have been made to the physical components or location of the (project) since its original approval in September 2010,” staff said.
That is not likely to allay opponents, however, many of whom remain strongly opposed to the radio tower and plan to address the board again on Tuesday.
The hearing begins at 9 a.m. in the board of supervisors chambers, located inside the county administration building, 625 Court St., in Woodland.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy.