Grand County Commissioners approve two new cell towers
GRANBY/GRAND LAKE – AT&T is gaining more presence in Grand County with two new cellular towers.Approval for the towers was obtained during the Grand County commissioner meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8 – in effect bringing AT&T service to the Grand Lake and Granby region where such service has not existed or been spotty. A 100-foot Granby tower will likely be located on leased property west of town belonging to landowner Steve Murphy. A 90-foot-tall tower also providing AT&T coverage in the Grand Lake area will be erected on the Mountain Parks Electric property that includes the McKenzie substation near Lake Granby. As part of the approved permits, both towers will be painted dark green in an attempt to blend them into surrounding landscapes, since both towers are in the Three Lakes Design Review Area seeking to preserve viewscapes, according to the certificate of recommendation from the Grand County planning department.Ken Anderson, who sells cellular products at his Rocky Mountain General Store in Granby, welcomes cellular competition and sees the new towers as a business opportunity to potentially provide AT&T products to his customers, he said.Many times he has sold pre-paid phones or new phones to frustrated visitors and second homeowners who discovered their AT&T cell-phone service is spotty at best north of Red Dirt Hill. Grand Lake Mayor Judy Burke appreciates the new presence of AT&T cellular for added safety among residents and visitors. If a forest fire were to take place, better service means better communication of Code Red messaging, she said.But Burke is not altogether supportive of a brand-new tower being erected for the service.”We had hoped that AT&T would come together with Verizon and use the one tower at the (Grand Lake) Lodge,” Burke said on Tuesday, “as opposed to building a new one.”The shared tower lease fell through not because Verizon and AT&T couldn’t reach a deal on co-locating, but because of terms with the Grand Lake Lodge, said permit applicant Scott Harry of SureSite Consulting Group LLC, during the Grand County Commissioners meeting.Reached on Tuesday, Grand Lake Lodge Manager Jeff Larson said he and representatives of the Lodge would not comment.Meanwhile, concern about use of an easement is creating a proverbial rough road for Granby AT&T cellular tower applicant Aaron Gunn, of Mercury Towers. Commissioners elected to allow for the permit in spite of an objection to use of an easement brought to their attention by landowner Jennifer Baker, Murphy’s sister. Ron Tinkum, who helps out on Baker’s ranch, read out loud a letter by Baker on her behalf during the hearing.Her private easement that leads to a BLM road has been the subject of dispute concerning cellular and other vehicles on that road in the past, she said. Baker’s cattle graze nearby, and in the spring of 2011, Baker and Tinkum suspected one of her bulls got a broken leg from being hit by a vehicle on that road. “Losing a bull is a big impact on a small operation. It is a big concern to her,” Tinkum said during the meeting. Baker’s concerns about the safety of her livestock has her questioning why the applicant won’t use an alternative route.Gunn responded the road through Baker’s property is in better condition for equipment needed during the construction phase of the tower project. Gunn aims to begin construction as soon as possible, a project that could take as long as four weeks.Commissioners ultimately voted to allow for the permit due to the probability Baker’s cattle will not be present during construction in the winter months, Gunn’s promise to follow rules of the road such as gate closings, AT&T’s future use of the road limited to about one visit to the tower per month, and the fact that if there were damage to Baker’s livestock, Gunn or AT&T would be liable for the replacement cost. Gunn said he would be meeting with Baker’s lawyer the following day to discuss the easement situation.- Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603
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