Also Approves Strict Rules for Future Telecommunications Construction Proposals
SAN MIGUEL COUNTY – With discussions between Frontier Production and the San Miguel Board of County Commissioners ongoing, plans are apace for the production company to film its made-for-TV movie When Calls the Heart in the county.
At its July 9 meeting, the BOCC agreed that Frontier Production could film in Ilium. The site would allow for ample space to construct a period-accurate set, beneath the beautiful backdrop of the San Juan Mountains.
The historical family drama is a film adaptation of Janette Oke’s “Canadian West Series” of Christian novels about Elizabeth Thatcher, a cultured teacher from a sprawling city who accepts a teaching position in a frontier town in 1910. The series stars Maggie Grace, known for her roles in Taken, Taken 2, Lost and more. When Calls the Heart is written and directed by Michael Landon, Jr., who appeared as a child actor in the TV series Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie. The movie is scheduled to air on the Hallmark Channel in October.
Cell Tower Standards Added to Land Use Code
The San Miguel Board of County Commissioners approved the addition to a new Land Use Code section that will improve the standards and requirements of companies proposing construction of new telecommunication towers and facilities. The need for the new “5-27” section stems from the construction of the new wireless communications tower recently built in Norwood.
In 2012, Mercury Towers proposed building the 199-foot telecommunications service tower north of the Norwood fairgrounds. The proposal turned controversial when proponents argued that Norwood had terrible cellular signals, and needed improved infrastructure. Opponents argued that the size, visibility and proximity of the towers would affect the scenery of the town, also citing potential health hazards the tower would pose to Norwood children in the nearby school.
“Telecommunications towers in this part of Colorado are usually built on far-removed mountains, so constructing a tower this close to a town generated some controversy,” said, San Miguel County Planning Director Mike Rozycki. In a split vote, the commissioners eventually approved the construction of the tower.
In light of the controversy, the approved 5-27 section provides clear outlines of what the county requires from proposals to construct new telecommunications towers and facilities in San Miguel County. One outline describes preferred, disfavored and prohibited facilities. Preferred construction proposals include acceptable heights, locations and proximities to schools and residential areas; 5-27 also favors towers and facilities proposed for building upon an existing telecommunications tower or structure.
The section disfavors new tower proposals built within a half-mile of a residential area or in environmentally sensitive areas (floodplains, wetlands and Gunnison-Sage Grouse habitat), as well as towers and facilities built within a state or county designated scenic highway or built in open fields, meadows or low-lying areas. New towers or tower additions built in excess of 199 feet would are also prohibited, as are facilities tall enough that require to be lighted to comply with Federal Aviation Administration requirements.
Copper Potential in West End Being Explored
The commissioners briefly discussed a pending mineral exploration permit application to explore western San Miguel County, south of Highway 141 on County Road 23R, for silver and copper. The presence of copper was reported there, in the 1950s and 1960s, but the vein has not been explored using modern methods.
If approved, mineral researchers will be permitted to investigate county rock surfaces, examine geological mapping and conduct non-invasive geophysical surveys. Prohibited activities include mineral extraction, disturbing archeological or historical sites, creating new roads or trails or using hazardous substances.
Researchers are investigating any further evidence of silver or copper in western San Miguel County.