NORTH FORK – The long-awaited cell tower project planned for the Cascadel Woods area is moving forward at last.
The Madera County Planning Department reports that plans were submitted by Complete Wireless Consulting, contractor for Verizon Wireless, on Jan. 29. Everything is now under review by the various County Departments, including Planning, Special Districts, Fire, Roads, Building and Environmental Health.There have been corrections submitted by the Building Department, and once the applicant satisfies those requirements and makes the necessary corrections, the plans will be reviewed once again before the permit will be issued. A timeline for construction will be dialed in as reviews are complete.
In June of 2012, the Madera County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the re-zoning and conditional use permit allowing the cell tower project to proceed. Residents of the North Fork area have been anxiously awaiting word of ground-breaking on a project that will literally change their lives.
With little to no cell service in North Fork, it makes it difficult for law enforcement and fire personnel to function at the highest level, as attested to by Sheriff John Anderson at the Board of Supervisors meeting last June.
Anderson stated that cell service in the area is critical for his deputies in the performance of their duties, citing the North Fork Fire in 2001 where deputies had to go door-to-door to notify people to evacuate.
Anderson also brought up the issue of reverse 911. “I’m going to estimate that most people under 30 don’t have landline phones anymore. With reverse 911 we can call, say, 500 homes at once if we need to, but we’re missing a lot of people because we don’t have contact with cellular. We can’t contact people in case of an emergency.”
Due to the sketchy radio service in the mountain area, Anderson says that his deputies often can’t use radios, they need to use cell phones.
It is also difficult to attract new business to an area where there is no cell service, which has been of great concern to local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Community Development Council.
Scott Marsh, owner of Slims Koffee Shak in North Fork, and president of the Chamber of Commerce,says, “I’m not an economist, but I know that a couple of the foundations to building an economy are transportation and communication.” The new cell tower will certainly give North Fork a boost in the communication department.
Mark Lobaugh of Complete Wireless Consulting says the plans for the tower are designed to minimize the visual impact of the site for residents of the Cascadel area. The tower will be the mono-pine type, complete with green slats in the chain link fence surrounding the installation, and landscaping.
There has been no objection noted from any of the Cascadel residents, with several saying that they will just delighted to have cell service.