Crestone/Baca Planning Commission recommends cell phone tower; County Commissioners approve

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In a 3-1 vote (1 in abstentia) the Baca-Crestone Planning Commission voted to recommend approval for construction of a new 250 foot cell-phone tower northwest of Casita Park. In an attempt to make a compromise with local residents, the tower location had been re-sited and will be roughly 5/8 of a mile from Casita Park. It is also further to the northwest on the Johnson/Malouff property, and with less of a view impact than the previously proposed location. Mike Sharlow, site development contractor for Commnet Wireless. (commnetwireless.com) indicated the new proposed 250 foot height includes two lights (one at the top and one midway up the tower) per FAA regulations. Sharlow indicated that erection of this tower will allow for full coverage for the town of Crestone and Baca development with wireless phone and internet/data by: AT&T Wireless; Sprint PCS; T-Mobile; and Verizon Wireless networks; as well as many local/regional/international carriers.

As far as overall site impact, there will be three low containers that house the necessary equipment and a 100’ square chain-link fence surrounding it. The total power of emissions is 40 watts. According to Federal guidelines, this amount of radiation would be around 1% of what is allowable when standing anywhere near the tower; this radiation diminishes rapidly as you get further away. The proposed site is more than 5/8ths of a mile from any existing residence.

When representatives from Commnet were asked to address the concerns of residents regarding health effects, they replied that, according to Federal regulations (no citation found), any jurisdiction considering siting allowance cannot use health concerns as a legal/valid reason for denial, as the Federal government has already set the standards for radiation: for this tower it is deemed to be a non-issue.

In the end, the Planning Commission Board voted 3 to 1 in favor of the application. Against: Burt Wadman; For: Lisa Cyraics, Jahree Burton, Diane Dunlap; In Abstentia: Kairena Danforth. (Clay Bridgeford had to leave before the vote was taken) However, the Commission also tacked on an advisory that the height of the tower and any possible lighting be mitigated as much as is reasonably possible.

Thirteen days later, at a regular Saguache County Commissioners’ meeting, the cell phone tower application came before the Commissioners. According to Matie Belle Lakish, only one other member of the public was present. After minimal discussion, two of the three Commissioners voted to approve the application as is. Other than concerns raised by Commissioner Joseph about further time to research the mitigation impacts as recommended by the Planning Commission, no further attention was given to those recommendations. Commnet’s land use application was approved by a vote of 2:1, Voting against: Linda Joseph, Voting for: Mike Spearman, Sam Pace.

A PDF version of the application, including schematic details and land plats, is available at our website at: crestoneeagle.com/dl/commnet

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