Carmel Country Plaza cell towers renewed; redesign with 16 antennas also approved

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board approved the renewal and redesign of a wireless facility at Carmel Country Plaza at its April 2 meeting. The plans from Verizon Wireless include removing the five visible antennas atop one of the buildings on Carmel Country and Townsgate Drive, and increasing to 16 antennas concealed within a cupola, a small dome structure.

The decision was not unanimous: The vote was 9-3-1, and board member Debbie Lokanc was most vocal about her objections.

“I’m outraged that they keep putting these in Carmel Valley,” said Lokanc, referring to the 16 antennas the board approved last year atop Chipotle on Valley Centre Drive.

She said in the case of the Valley Centre Drive antennas, she spoke to managers at both Starbucks and Chipotle, who said they were never notified that the antennas were going in. She believes that with the Carmel Country Plaza antennas, the neighboring residents and businesses have not been properly notified either.

“We really need to think about the people in this community,” Lokanc said, noting her worries about residents’ exposure to radio frequency emissions.

Chair Frisco White said that the board is not allowed to make decisions on cell towers based on health concerns.