Proposed Fraser cell phone tower dials up static with neighbors
Sky-Hi Daily News
A 100-foot tall cellular tower could rise over the Fraser Valley.
Cricket Communications Inc. has asked Grand County officials for permission to build the structure at High Country Stampede near Fraser. Residents who live near the location are worried about health risks as well as a decline in property values.
Mile High Tower would own the structure and Cricket would lease it. The tower could potentially hold up to five cell phone carriers, reducing the number of towers built in the area and increasing communication in the region.
Winter Park Horseman’s Association owns the site.
The plan could get approval from the Grand County Planning Commission at a 6:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday at the Grand County Courthouse in Hot Sulphur Springs.
The County commissioners also would have to OK the plan.
The tower is to be camouflaged and 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.
“It’s going to affect a lot of people because you can see it all over the Valley,” said Carol Bothun, who lives near High Country Stampede. “It’s really going to affect home values.”
Her husband, J.D. Bothun, also is concerned.
A cherry picker recently was extended to 100-feet high to give neighbors a “sense of what the tower would like at that height,” county papers said.
“I drove to Safeway and it was very noticeable from there,” J.D. Bothun said.
He said the proposed tower was originally going to be 60 feet tall, and farther away from his property. Now, it is 75 yards closer than its original location, and within 100 yards of their home, he said.
The couple is already having a hard time selling their home with the rodeo nearby and said realtors have told them if the tower is approved, it will make it even more difficult to find a buyer.
“Would you personally by a home 100 yards away from a cell tower?” he asked.
“Why should I get my property devalued … so they (Winter Park Horseman’s Association) can put a few bucks in their pocket,” he said about the group profiting from the tower. “The entire Fraser area is going to see that thing.”
In addition, he said it will stand twice as high as surrounding trees.
“It’s very, very obvious,” said Louise Powers, who also lives near the proposed tower. “It’s going to be quite an eyesore and it has no business being in a residential area.”
She gathered neighbors to attend the last planning commission meeting.
“I’m just hoping that the planning commissioners will have an open mind and realize there’s a better location for the tower,” Powers said.
When the cherry picker was raised last week, some people could spot the tower from Winter Park, she added.
Dennis Veron also lives within 500 feet of the potential cell tower.
He has done research and found two “potential harmful consequences” the tower could have on homeowners surrounding the rodeo ground. It could increase the chance of brain tumors, suppressed immune function, depression and miscarriages, he said.
“That’s serious stuff we’re talking about,” he said. “I don’t want to be exposed to those dangers and neither does anybody else.”
The tower could affect people within a two-and-a-half mile radius of the poles, Veron said.
In addition, several countries have stricter cell tower regulations. Germany, for instance, bans cell phone structures in residential areas, he said.
Studies show cell phone poles decrease property values between 20 and 21 percent, Veron said.
“That tower going in there is going to take a big bite out of the value of our homes,” he added.
Other neighbors also have written letters to the county protesting the tower.
The Grand County staff recommends approval of the plan as long as Cricket and Mile High Tower follow a list of conditions, according to documents. County Planning Director Kristen Manguso did not return a phone message from the Sky-Hi Daily News to comment on the cellular tower special use permit request.
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