Towers dominate council agendaAs a now-defunct tower is removed in Pine Valley, Cloquet City Councilors and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren voted unanimously to approve a conditional use permit (CUP) to allow New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC (AT&T) cell phone company to install a 190-foot mono-pole tower on city-owned land north of Carlton Avenue and west of Scanlon Way.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
As a now-defunct tower is removed in Pine Valley, Cloquet City Councilors and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren voted unanimously to approve a conditional use permit (CUP) to allow New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC (AT&T) cell phone company to install a 190-foot mono-pole tower on city-owned land north of Carlton Avenue and west of Scanlon Way.
A public hearing was held at the Cloquet Planning Commission meeting Oct. 8, and commission members unanimously recommended the council approve the CUP. The next step will be approval of a lease between the city and the cell phone company.
City code requires a minimum 500 feet separation between the tower and any residential structure and a minimum setback of 75 percent of the tower height (150 feet) to the property lines. Director of Public Works Jim Prusak recommended the tower be as far south and east as possible on the city-owned land, to provide more developable land in the future.
Councilor David Bjerkness asked if the conditions could also include a provision that would require the company to remove the tower “after a limited time if it goes dormant,” noting that technology needs can change quickly.
City Planning and Zoning Director Al Cottingham said the zoning code already contains such a provision.
The CUP included the following conditions:
+ The maximum height of the tower and attached antennae shall be 200 feet;
+ The lease agreement must be finalized prior to the issuance of a building permit;
+ The tower location needs to be to the written satisfaction of Public Works Director Jim Prusak;
+ The tower shall not be artificially illuminated unless required by FCC or FAA regulations;
+ If the tower is required to have flashing type lighting or illumination, the use of red flashing lights is required during night time hours as opposed to white strobe lights unless otherwise federally mandated.
Cottingham said he did not think the tower would be tall enough to require lighting or illumination.
The city currently uses a portion of that property for snow storage in winter. That is not expected to change.
While no citizens spoke about the new cell phone tower, one Midway Road resident did address the council at the end of the meeting about a new tower proposed for city-owned land adjacent to his property in St. Louis County.
“We’re neighbors,” said Gene Halvorson, explaining that he owns land west and south of the city’s 40 acres and water tank off Midway Road, with little problem to date. “But the city is really screwing me over at this point. You’ve signed a lease allowing a 185-foot steel tower to go up next to your water tank, but that tower is going up less than 150 feet from my brand new house site.”
The tower in question is not a cell tower. Rather, it will be part of a statewide Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) system, Minnesota’s 800 megahertz shared public safety radio communication system, used by law enforcement, local government and other emergency response organizations so they all can communicate with one another.
Mayor Bruce Ahlgren encouraged Halvorson to contact his local township officials as well as state officials about possibly changing the planned location of the tower, before construction begins. Ahlgren promised the city would do what it could to help, but stressed that the township has jurisdiction for zoning issues there.
In its work session, council members and city staff discussed the idea of a community clean-up event or campaign, expressing support for some type of effort. Community Development Director Holly Butcher is going to look into what other communities do, what kind of partners Cloquet could work with and estimated cost of a range of initiatives. She will then report back to the council.