slam cell tower hearing
Express Staff Writer
by a Hailey City Council member as a "sham," a public meeting
conducted Friday by the Idaho Department of Lands on a proposed cell tower
did little to assuage local concerns.
department is proposing to lease state land on Della Mountain, next to an
existing 60-foot tower, to Hailey-based Idaho Tower Co. to build a tower
"up to" 100 feet tall and capable of supporting 10 carriers.
people showed up at an "open-house" meeting the department held
at the Hailey Library at 6:30 p.m. Friday to present the proposal and take
public comment. However, local public officials who attended expressed
skepticism about the departmentís sincerity in consulting local opinion.
think it was a little baffling as to what the real purpose of this meeting
was," said County Commissioner May Ann Mix.
Council President Susan McBryant went further.
think it was intended as a sham to massage Blaine County," she said.
"It was not a meeting. It was a social hour intended to give both the
Land Board and the party proposing (the tower) the time to promote
meeting, Mix criticized the lack of an architectural drawing for the
proposed tower and of plans to camouflage it and to mitigate construction
damage to the site, all items required under Blaine Countyís recently
enacted Wireless Communications Facility Ordinance.
In a letter
delivered to the department, county Planning and Zoning Administrator
Linda Haavik contended that the departmentís decision to hold the
meeting on a Friday night "does not comport with the notion that the
public should be part of the decision-making process."
feelings are still smarting from an effort by the Lands Department to
ignore county zoning ordinances by allowing gravel mining on state land in
Ohio Gulch. Since the county ordinance appears to prohibit the new tower
as proposed, a second such battle looked imminent.
decision handed down last Wednesday by 5th District Judge James
May in favor of the county in the Ohio Gulch case suddenly weakened the
to assertions by local officials that the decision means Idaho Tower Co.
will need to apply for a conditional-use permit from the county, Bryce
Taylor, the departmentís representative at the meeting, said,
"Thereís more than one court in this state." Though the reply
implied the state plans to appeal Mayís decision, a spokesperson for the
Idaho Attorney Generalís Office said in an interview that the question
is still under review.
could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
interview, Jennifer Campbell, co-owner of Idaho Tower Co., said the
company "definitely" plans to go before the county to obtain a
conditional-use permit. She said there was no point in doing so before the
company obtained a lease agreement with the state.
feel bad that people think things were happening out of turn, but I donít
believe they were," she said.
said the company will probably propose a tower 60 feet high to comply with
the countyís ordinance, which requires towers to be no taller than any
existing tower at the site.
said a taller tower would provide better coverage and sound quality for
local cell phone users.