Board OKs permit for radio tower |

Board OKs permit for radio tower

This preliminary drawing, showing the proposed radio tower, was submitted as evidence in the public hearing this week for the tower's special use permit.
Courtesy photo |

Grand County’s community radio station, KFFR 88.3 FM, secured its long-term viability Tuesday evening following a lengthy public hearing that ended with the county board of commissioners unanimously approving a special-use permit for the installation of a 90-foot radio tower in the hills northeast of Fraser.

The hearing became contentious with dozens of supporters and opponents of the permit filling the seats of the commissioner’s chambers in Hot Sulphur Springs. While permit supporters were drawn from across the Fraser Valley and throughout the county most of those opposing the permit’s approval were landowners in the Batson Tracts subdivision, where the tower will be located.

Denis Moynihan, the applicant for the permit, was present to testify about how and why KFFR chose the site location for the tower and to address concerns raised by the county’s planning commission, which recently voted four-to-three to recommended the county board deny the permit, as well as concerns voiced by local citizens opposing the tower’s construction.

The planning commission raised concerns about the view-shed impacts, potential health dangers from radio frequency waves emitted by the tower and questioned the degree to which alternative tower sites had been considered by Moynihan.

Citizens opposing the permit approval raised similar concerns.

Moynihan testified before the county board for nearly two hours as he sought to address those concerns, including providing comments from a consultant named Michael Brown who specifically spoke to the issue of radio frequency waves and their impacts on health. Brown assured the board that, based on his calculations, the emission of radio frequency waves from the tower would fall below legally permitted maximum amounts.

While the planning commission itself recommended denying the permit, the Grand County Community Development department, which handles the county’s planning services, had a somewhat different view.

“We made it clear to the Board of County Commissioners that it (the tower) would be a public benefit,” said Tom Leatherwood, Grand County community development director. “There were conditions we recommended they approve. We made clear in our presentation that the applicant had done all due diligence that we felt addressed all the issues.”

The county issued a list of 21 different conditions the KFFR radio tower will need to comply with going forward to maintain its special-use permit. Conditions included items such as submitting a wildfire mitigation plan and allowing first responder organizations to install communication relay stations on the tower. The tower is also prohibited from being used for any for-profit purposes and cannot hold cellular telephone telecommunications equipment.

“We are elated,” Moynihan said after the permit was approved.

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