For the week of May 5, 1999  thru May 11, 1999  

First draft of tower ordinance to be heard

Express Staff Writer

This 100 foot tall cell phone tower in Hailey is similar to one proposed for Ketchum.

The first draft of a new Ketchum ordinance, designed to regulate the construction of radio, cellular and other forms of towers, will be reviewed in a public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission Monday.

The draft ordinance would prohibit lattice-style towers like one recently proposed by U.S. Cellular. It would also set a maximum height of 35 feet with the exception of roof-mounted or facade-mounted towers.

A roof tower would be allowed to be 45 feet tall, measured from the ground if it is a whip antenna, which is less than four inches in diameter. Other types of roof towers would be limited to 40 feet.

A facade tower—one that is attached to the side of a building--would be allowed to be 40 feet higher than the ground.

The hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. at Ketchum City Hall.

Copies of the draft ordinance will be available to the public tomorrow at City Hall.

The city undertook drafting the new ordinance in response to a March application from U.S. Cellular to build a 100-foot-tall wireless communications tower on Warm Springs Road. It was the first application for such a tower the city has received, even though cellular phone service has been offered in the valley for some time.

The proposed tower would stand on a lot at the intersection of Warm Springs Road and Tenth Street, kitty-corner from Gerry’s Market. The land is owned by Elmar Grabher.

The city quickly enacted a 120-day, emergency moratorium on the construction of all such towers, over 35 feet in height, pending the creation of regulations. The moratorium became effective March 25. Thirty-five feet is the city’s building height limit.

In a March interview, planning administrator Lisa Majdiak said both the city and U.S. Cellular should benefit from an ordinance.

"It’s in their best interest as well as ours," she said. "We really had no guidelines to give them."

Majdiak called the city’s existing ordinances "woefully inadequate" for dealing with issues of this nature.

According to Ketchum planner Stacey Matz, who helped draft the document, it contains guidelines for locations, site selection criteria, site priorities, design and landscaping.

She added that communications signal facilities will likely be encouraged to share towers, and said that a first-priority prohibition will be to avoid allowing construction of the lattice-style towers.


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