ALBANY -- The Planning and Zoning Commission on Jan. 17 approved a revised application by AT&T to add nine new antennas to the roof of a building at 1035 San Pablo Ave., ending a long-standing stalemate over the installation.
The application has been in the works and through several revisions for more than four years, which eventually led to a lawsuit being filed by the telecommunications giant against the city.
The planned antennas, intended to improve cell phone service for AT&T customers in the area, would be co-located on a building that already has cell phone antennas on it, which is preferred under Albany regulations.
Past public objections had included the proximity of the equipment to a residential neighborhood.
Amazingly, considering the past controversy over the application, no one came to this week's council meeting to speak about the application.
The Planning and Zoning approval of AT&T's wireless antennas application is the latest step in a long process to improve wireless coverage in Albany. Previous attempts to put antennas on the building led to significant protests at Planning and Zoning and City Council meetings.
Some of the protests centered around concerns about having wireless facilities too close to a neighborhood and the alleged dangers involved. However, federal law prevents cities from considering such concerns.
AT&T's previous proposal would have housed the communications equipment in a rooftop penthouse on the building. The city rejected that proposal based on zoning requirements regarding rooftop coverage. That led to the lawsuit last fall.
However, AT&T revised its proposal once again. This time, AT&T would demolish the penthouse and rent a suite in the building for its equipment.
An appeal to the city council needs to be filed within 14 days of the Planning and Zoning Commission's vote. Thus far, no appeal has been filed.
"Compared to the hearings we had last year, we didn't have the same turnout as we had in the past," City Planner Anne Hersch said.
Battalion Chief and former Fire Marshall Brian J. Crudo, who is retiring on Feb. 1, was honored by the City Council Monday for his 30 years of service with the Albany Fire Department.
Crudo joined the Albany Fire Department as a firefighter on Dec. 1, 1982. Over the years, he advanced through the department, and was named Battalion Chief in July, 2001. He served under three chiefs: Horace (Mike) Koepke, Marc McGinn, and Ed Tubbs, who recently announced his own retirement. Crudo also served as the lead investigator of Alameda County's Arson Task Force and as the Terrorism Liaison Officer with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
He said he began planning his retirement last March.
"For the first few months, I've got some repair work to do on the house I've been neglecting," Crudo said. "The 'Honey-Dos.' Maybe a little travel. We're looking at Colorado as a place to move to, maybe in a year or two. There's a lot of activities I can't do because of my injuries that I've had over the years, my neck and back have kind of restricted me. There's some stuff. Golfing is out. But there's plenty to do."
Crudo was praised for his work in fire prevention, a necessary priority as government budget cuts have affected fire departments all over the state and country.
"Trying to get people to get more aware of fire safety," he said. "We've been doing this with the schools for years. Hopefully, as they grow, they will learn the ways of fire prevention."
The council also received reports from the Homeless Task Force and from city staff regarding a social media platform designed to encourage more citizen involvement online.