A proposal for a 120-foot cellphone tower in the Animas Valley was met with skepticism from the neighbors who would have to look at it.
About 10 community members attended an informal Monday evening meeting at the Animas Valley Grange to question experts about the purpose, location and regulation of the tower, which would be located in the Sandco gravel pit, 619 Trimble Lane.
The tower, proposed by Raleigh-based Tower Engineering Professionals, would replace an existing system one mile north of the gravel pit, accommodate four carriers for better coverage and handle emergency communications.
“It’s a central location to serve as far north and as far south of the tower as possible,” said Richard Busch, a telecommunications law and management attorney representing the applicants.
In the past three years, new county regulations were enacted to limit the height and regulate placement of cell towers. County Planner Daniel Murray said this is the first tower proposal considered under the county regulations, and the project is subject to review under the Animas Valley Land-Use Plan.
But to the public, a scenic mountain view doesn’t include 120 feet of infrastructure.
“From our house, we have oaks that shield our view,” said Jenny Vierling, who lives in the historic Radar House on East Animas Road (County Road 250) near the gravel pit site. “But it would be very visual to a cyclist on U.S. Highway 550. The area of proximity versus line of sight – those are two very different things.”
“You need to consider proposals by the impacted area,” Van Butler said. “This affects a lot more people than those 500 feet away. Think about the total impact, not just arbitrary footage.”
The application was submitted to the county in June. Planning staff members will review the application and direct a recommendation to the county Planning Commission, which will then make a recommendation on the permit for La Plata County commissioners to consider.
Murray encouraged the public to make comments about the project now, in the early planning phases, rather than wait until it goes before the county boards for review.