Communications giant AT&T wont press ahead with its application for a 195-foot tall cell tower in front of the scenic Hermosa Cliffs north of Durango.
We got a call yesterday from Bill Soards, president of AT&T Colorado, saying theyre going to let their permit application lapse, tower opponent John McClelland, a retired physicist who worked for NASA and the Department of Energy, said Thursday.
Juanita Sauvage, a La Plata County planner, confirmed the decision. An email from AT&T Mobilitys senior real estate manager Todd Daoust said the application would be allowed to expire.
Connie Hanson, a spokeswoman for AT&T, said by email:
While we are choosing not to pursue construction of the new cell tower at this time, we have appreciated the countys cooperation with this application, and we look forward to working with the county and local residents in the future as we are always assessing coverage quality and seeking improvements in wireless service.
McClelland called AT&Ts decision a remarkable act.
It was the right thing to do, so AT&T deserves some kudos, he said.
Bev Sinclair, another tower opponent, said: AT&T has shown a sensitivity for the wishes of our community.
La Plata County residents learned in February that AT&T had applied to build a 20-story cellphone communications tower near mile marker 44 on U.S. Highway 550 the Hermosa Cliffs stretch of the scenic San Juan Skyway.
Opposition erupted immediately.
A tower that tall would mar a national scenic byway, said Kitty Benzar, who lives in the Lakewood Meadows subdivision across Highway 550 from the tower site. Cell coverage in the area is good, and new technology will make dinosaurs of giant towers within a few years, she said.
Benzar founded the Western Slope No Fee Association, which promotes free access to national recreational areas.
But McClellands jubilation was reserved.
Another carrier could put in the same application and get it approved because La Plata County doesnt have a telecommunications ordinance, he said.
Sinclair called the lack of a county ordinance an embarrassment.
It is a dangerous policy to be without a viable instrument to guide telecommunication development, she said.
Joanne Spina, acting La Plata County manager, said Thursday a telecommunications ordinance could be included when the county updates its land-use code.
Were in the early stages of rewriting the county code, Spina said.
The city of Durango has an ordinance that addresses location of cell towers, joint use of towers and their visual impact, McClelland said.
We need fewer cell towers and more antennas per tower, McClelland said. An example is the water tower west of Durango that supports the antennas of a number of carriers.
Opponents praised AT&T for withdrawing its application on their website, https://sites.google.com/site/savehermosacliffs.
AT&T showed exceptional integrity and social consciousness in taking this action, recognizing its responsibilities to local residents and the impact this tower would have on a national scenic treasure, the group said.