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No Cell Tower Next to School

MetroPCS makes things easy on the newly installed Planning Commission by withdrawing its application. Mark McQuaid voted new Planning Commissioner, and new learning center gets OK. Math, anyone?

Rancho Viejo Montessori School picked up a victory Wednesday night and the school wasn't even there to celebrate. Of course, that's what happens when the opposition caves at the last minute.

At the first Planning Commission meeting of the year that included the installation of three new commissioners, the most notable news was what didn't happen.

MetroPCS, the cellular phone company, dropped its request to put a cell tower on a building adjacent to the school; the City received that notification earlier Wednesday.

Also, the newly opened Cinépolis Luxury Theater opted to wait on its request for a modification of conditions for alcohol sales in its theater.

It ultimately made for a light agenda which included a Conditional Use Permit given to Roel Florentino of Math to the Max Inc., a first-time business owner who will open a "Mathnasium, The Math Learning Center," three storefronts from the former site of Ballpark Pizza Team in Plaza Antonio.

Mathnasium, which offers supervised tutoring of individuals and small groups, will occupy the former site of Antibes Salon and Spa.

The commissioners did do a bit of adjusting; without Florentino asking for it, they removed the age limitation on the age of students, which had originally been asked to include ages 5-18. Commissioners also imposed a condition that employees park in the western-most lot behind Ballpark.

"It's sound business to keep parking available for the customers and not the employees," said Commissioner Kent Hayden, himself a businessman.

The meeting began at City Hall with the induction of the commissioners who are appointed by city council members: April Josephson (an appointment of Mayor Tony Beall), Mark McQuaid (Carol Gamble) and Michael Vaughn (Brad McGirr).

The holdovers are Peter Whittingham and Hayden, appointees of Steve Baric and Jesse Petrilla, respectively, following the 2010 election.

One of the necessary bits of bookkeeping was to choose a chair and vice chair for the next year. Hayden nominated Whittingham to continue in his role as chair, and Vaughn nominated McQuaid, who had been on the commission previously from June 2001 to December 2005—which actually made him the most experienced person on the dais.

A resident since 1998, the 48-year-old McQuaid was selected by a 3-2 margin. His day job is a consulting engineer for low voltage building systems for Carol Gamble & Associates, where he serves as a vice president.

Josephson nominated Vaughn for the role of vice chair and he was approved, 5-0. Vaughn is vice president and general counsel of Applied Medical, the largest employer in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Vaughn, who has been active in the community but who is taking on his first role in government, has been a resident of RSM since 1987.

There were also two committee appointments made by the group. Whittingham was selected the representive to the City's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Public Service Grant Advisory Committee. Vaughn was chosen the commission representative to the Community Associations of Rancho,which is made up of a group of representatives from the city's Master Home Owners Associations.

Although it was a big night for those who struggle with mathematics, the biggest winner Wednesday was Rancho Viejo Monstessori. A number of residents spoke out against the cell tower at the Planning Commission meeting of Dec. 5; MetroPCS argued that cell reception would get much better in the area.

Jack Leonard, in his final meeting after serving since 2000, presented the cell phone company with a couple of alternatives to get the cell tower away from the school. The company's representative agreed at that time to meet with the new commission and explain why other options weren't feasible.

With the decision by the cell company Wednesday to withdraw its request, the matter ended. There would be no cell tower next to the school.

RSM Mom February 07, 2013 at 05:00 PM
As a parent of RVS children I am thrilled that Metro PCS removed their bid for the cell tower! I know in my heart that it was parents of RVS that helped move this forward in opposition. We were ready with our "troops" for Wednesday nights meeting and although we weren't there to celebrate, there will be plenty of celebrating going on within our school community!! Next stop - getting OC to put a stop to cell towers in and around all OC schools!!

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