Albany City Council upheld a decision Tuesday by the Planning and Zoning Commission to allow AT&T to install its first cell phone antennas on a three-story office building on San Pablo Avenue.
The council’s decision comes nearly five years after the telecom provider first applied to the city to improve its coverage in the area. Approval for the new antennas by the Planning Commission in January was followed 13 days later by an appeal from Albany resident Heike Abeck. The city council rejected this appeal Tuesday night.
The planning commission rejected an application AT&T filed in 2008 last year, and when the appeal of that decision landed at the City Council, the council too turned thumbs down.
The commission decisions on both applications, and the council's decision on the first application, revolved largely around technical issues of conformance with zoning and building standards, such as height limits and amount of allowable rooftop structure.
AT&T sued the city over the denial of its first application in federal court in August, alleging that the city improperly applied its regulations and that the decision wrongly considered health concerns, even though the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 forbids denying cell phone antennas on those grounds.
According to an email from the city clerk, AT&T will be required to test radio frequency levels every two years per Albany’s municipal code.