Cellphone service providers are steadily expanding 5G wireless coverage all around the country and Verizon is aiming for the northern part of Pahrump to be one of the next locations to see a tower that can carry this faster service. The company has now hit a snag, however, with its application for a 5G wireless facility on Bell Vista Avenue rejected and its subsequent appeal denied.
The application to request a Conditional Use Permit that would allow for a 125-foot Monopole Wireless Facility was submitted in 2023 by DW Tower on behalf of Verizon, with a seven-plus acre parcel at 2340 W. Bell Vista Avenue just west of the Leslie Street intersection the target site. The application was addressed by the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission (RPC) in November of last year, where it met with refusal by a unanimous vote of the seven-member board. An appeal was then filed with the Nye County Commission, which held a formal hearing on the matter during its Jan. 17 meeting.
Reg Destree, representing DW Tower in the appeal, stated that he believed the RPC’s denial was primarily because of the public’s response to the item.
Indeed, there were plenty of outspoken critics of the proposal at the RPC’s Nov. 2023 meeting and the January appeal hearing documents included a petition against the project, with hundreds of signatures on it. To this point, Destree went on to emphasize that per Nevada law, the application could not be denied based on these perceived health threats.
The RPC’s denial did not include a finding regarding potential health concerns, though, so Destree turned to the findings that were included.
The parcel selected for the Wireless Tower is zoned Commercial Manufacturing (CM) but this does not match with the Pahrump Master Plan, which one finding noted. Destree countered this by remarking that the CM zoning has been in place for many years, calling the conflicting master plan zoning an oversight.
As to the finding that states the 5G facility would not be harmonious with the neighborhood, Destree asserted. “I’m not going to argue that there is residential in the area… This is however a CM zone and has been for decades. It’s seven and a half acres and there are about 3.5 acres of CM to the west as well. There’s a heavy commercial use next door and to consider this a residential area seems a little disingenuous.”
A third finding against the application was in regard to the maximum building height in CM zones, which is 48 feet while the application called for a 125-foot tower.
“That height is the reason that wireless communications facilities almost always need Conditional Use or Special Use Permits,” Destree said. “It’s a very unique use…. I don’t feel that was a proper finding.”
As he wrapped up his appeal, Destree remarked that there is an obvious need for coverage in the area, staying, “I don’t think anyone really questions whether Verizon needs coverage out there. Verizon needs coverage throughout a lot of the valley here. The real question is, is this the most appropriate location for a site, based on the zoning requirements we have?”
Destree said the location had been selected as the best possible site for the facility and asked that the commission overturn the RPC’s decision.
The public then had its turn to speak and several residents took the opportunity, all staunchly opposing the appeal. Various reasons were given, many of which centered on potential health impacts of 5G transmission while others focused on the visual aspect, with residents proclaiming they had no desire to have their view marred by a new tower in their neighborhood.
Following a short break, the commission resumed the public hearing and commissioner Ron Boskovich motioned to affirm the RPC’s denial, based on the cited findings. The motion passed with all in favor.
This does not mean the project is entirely dead, however. Since the denial by the RPC, Destree said he has re-engaged with county staff about the possibility of utilizing an existing tower that is located nearby at the Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Station #4.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org