NORWOOD – At a call-up hearing held on Nov. 7, the San Miguel Board of County Commissioners, by a vote of 2-1, approved Mercury Tower’s application for a special use permit to construct a 195-foot, self-supporting cellular phone communication tower on the Weaver Property just north of the Norwood Schools.
At a well-attended meeting from members of the community, the motion to approve the tower, as made by Commissioner Art Goodtimes, was subsequently approved when Commissioner Elaine Fischer voted to approve the tower. Commissioner Joan May dissented.
County Planning Director Mike Rozycki said much of the discussion at the hearing surrounded alternative sites for the tower. It was ultimately agreed upon that, given the timing of the process and a lack of other proven alternative sites, the Weaver Property was the best site, despite concerns over its scenic quality.
While the call-up procedure, which came after a 2-1 San Miguel County Planning Commission approval, resulted in ultimate approval for the tower, Rozycki said the approval process could lead to further regulations regarding communication towers in the future: “The next thing is [staff] will likely ask the board at its meeting on Dec. 5 for a moratorium on new cell towers until we can get more comprehensive and specific regulations. There were a lot of issues.”
Rozycki suggested that new regulations should deal with both the process of approving cell towers and the standards by which they are approved. Ultimately, he said, it would be best to require a pre-application conference so county staff and an applicant can go over what the options are regarding building new towers.
“We didn’t get a situation here where we got a thorough understanding on what alternatives might have been,” Rozycki said. “There might have been some site that would have provided the same coverage, but we didn’t get the opportunity to fully explore those with the applicant.”