Grand County Planning Commission rejects cell tower proposal |

Grand County Planning Commission rejects cell tower proposal

Neighbors of the High Country Stampede came to the Grand County Planning Commission to contest a plan to install a 100-foot tall cellular tower at the rodeo grounds in Fraser.

Cricket Communications Inc. and Mile High Tower had asked Grand County officials for permission to build the structure at the Fraser site owned by the Winter Park Horseman’s Association.

Several residents attended the meeting and said they were worried about health risks, a loss in property value and a tower camouflaged as a tree in their backyards.

The Grand County Planning Commission did not approve the permit, but the county commissioners could still OK the plan.

Commission member Ingrid Karlstrom said there are better places for the tower and that the residents have a “legitimate” reason to be concerned that their property values could be lowered.

Mile High Tower would own the structure and Cricket would lease it. The tower could hold up to five cell phone carriers, reducing the number of towers built in the area and increasing communication in the region.

The tower is to be disguised as a “tree,” similar to the structure at Sunspot in Winter Park. A six-foot high wood fence would screen the ground equipment, according to county documents.

“How camouflaged will it be? It will stick out and dominate everyone’s view,” said Louise Powers, who lives near the proposed tower.

Dennis Veron, who lives within 500 feet of the proposed cell tower, voiced concern about the structure.

“We are concerned about the loss of value of our homes … Once that tower goes in, the adverse affects on us are permanent,” he said.

Carol Bothun and her husband, J.D. Bothun, who live within 100 yards of the proposed tower presented the Grand County Planning Commission with a letter from their real estate agent, Teresa Ryan, owner of Ryan Real Estate in Fraser, asking the board to deny the cellular tower special use permit. Ryan’s statement claimed the pole would “have a negative effect on all of the neighboring resident’s real estate property values.”

“We have invested much of our life’s savings in building our Fraser home and had hopes that the sale of it would provide much of our retirement,” Carol Bothun told the board. “It doesn’t seem right that (the Association) should benefit at our expense.”

Dale Sonnek, president of The Horseman’s Association, has said the money the rodeo would receive for allowing the tower on its land would help the rodeo be “self-sufficient.”

Charles Stolz was at the meeting to represent Cricket Communications. He said if a tower meets Federal Communications Commission standards it’s “deemed safe.” He added that the company has installed towers on hospitals, schools and nursing homes.

“In my opinion they’re safe,” he said, adding that it is illegal to “discriminate against a carrier.”

“There will be more people coming like this,” he warned. “These carriers are going to keep coming.”

Planning member Blaine Gulbranso, the rodeo arena director, did not take part in the vote, but participated during public comment.

He said he could not find a “statistical study” that proves properties values have lowered because of cell phone towers. In addition, the money the Horseman’s Association would receive for allowing the structure to be built on their property would go back the community and no one would profit from it, he said.

“I’m not in real in favor of the site,” commission Chairman Stewart Thomson said. “I hate to see a new site established.”

Verizon Wireless already has a site nearby and is negotiating its lease with Denver Water.

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