Public hearing for cell tower continued — Community wants cell tower, but not in the proposed location

“We had no clue this was going to happen or we probably would have looked for a different way,” said local businessman Joe Conrado (standing), about the public hearing and comments from adjacent landowners on their application to place a 199-foot communications tower on a parcel of their property on RBC Road 13 (Flag Creek Road).

Local attorney Joe Fennessy, representing Les and Susan Sprod, asked that RBC commissioners not give the applicants “another bite at the apple. The application is complete, you should vote on it and deny it.” Commissioners voted to continue the hearing until Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.
MEEKER I A public hearing for Rio Blanco County commissioners to take comments on a special use permit to build a 199-foot cell tower has been continued until 7 p.m. Dec. 11 in the commissioners’ meeting room in the Fairfield Center.
“We had no clue this was going to happen or we probably would have looked for a different way,” said local businessman Joe Conrado (standing), about the public hearing and comments from adjacent landowners on their application to place a 199-foot communications tower on a parcel of their property on RBC Road 13 (Flag Creek Road).
Applicants Joe and Kelly Conrado were requesting approval for Mercury Towers to install a wireless telecommunication facility on land owned by the Conrados on RBC Road 13 (Flag Creek Road). The proposed facility will include a self-supporting tower (195-feet high with a 4-foot lightning rod), located on the southwest corner of the parcel.
According to the application, Mercury Towers is developing the proposed site in conjunction with AT&T to improve the carrier’s wireless communications network in the area, increasing coverage for AT&T customers and others in the area.
Mercury Towers representative Aaron Gunn said eight towers have been approved in Routt County and two in Moffat County as part of an initiative to provide broadband in rural areas of the state and the AT&T tower would be a co-location tower (used by carriers).
“The goal is to cover the town of Meeker, the highway corridor and cover as much area as possible,” Gunn said. “We want it as close to Meeker as possible to bring the area into the 21st century, with good, efficient 3G service.”
Everyone attending the meeting was in favor of better coverage, including adjacent landowners Les and Susan Sprod, represented by attorney Joe Fennessy, who said because of safety and view scape concerns, the proposed tower was in the “wrong place.”
“Why put it in somebody’s backyard?” Fennessy asked. “The applicant has the burden of proof. Where are the other options? The applicant did not offer alternatives, no view maps of what a 200-foot tower would look like. The glass is empty for support.”
Although Gunn said the towers are not designed to fail, the proposed tower would be built within 75 feet of a high-voltage power line, which is not within the 1 to 1 fall distance plus 10 feet required by White River Electric Association, within 50 feet of RBC Road 13 and 30 feet from Sprod’s property.
Gunn said the tower would not be lit since it is under 200 feet high but several in attendance said it was a safety concern for airplanes flying in and out of the Meeker Airport.
“It is in a landing and takeoff area,” Meeker Airport manager Gary Coulter said.
“We certainly can find a better place,” local rancher and pilot Wiley Berthelson said. “Rio Blanco County is spending a lot of money moving dirt out there (Meeker Airport) now for better safety.
“We had no clue this was going to happen or we probably would have looked for a different way because we don’t like the hostilities that have come through in these letters,” Joe Conrado said. “We had no idea this community did not want to upgrade.”
Cari Hermacinski with AT&T asked commissioners to “table” the decision until they could better address concerns but Fennessy disagreed, saying the application was complete and the commissioners should “vote and deny it.”
Commissioners did decide to continue the public hearing Dec. 11, requesting more information from the Federal Aviation Association, other possible locations and to address the fall distance of height plus 10 feet.
“We want to err on the side of safety,” commissioner Ken Parsons said.

1 Comment

  1. “We had no idea this community did not want to upgrade.” What? Of course everyone wants an upgrade but not by placing a 198 + Ft tower illegally it seems (not meeting the 1 to1 fall distance) or to interrupt the views.
    So deny this application but where should this tower go? I didn’t read any alternative proposed solutions in this article and unfortunately was not in attendance at the meeting. Are there other locations that will work? Are their other solutions? Would be nice to have heard some of those instead of just the negativism of this situation. Surely there is a workable solution.

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