Herald JournalHerald Journal, Jan. 3, 2005

Cell phone tower near LP gets first approval

By Gail Lipe
McLeod County Chronicle

Cell phone service in and around Lester Prairie may get a boost from a new tower southwest of Lester Prairie.

The McLeod County Planning Advisory Commission last week decided to recommend approval of a conditional use permit (CUP) for Western Wireless for a 395-foot tower on property owned by Devota Stoltenow on 180th Street, near the intersection with Dairy Avenue.

Ralph Wyngarden of Western Wireless said the request for the new tower is to address the lack of service in that area. The new tower would ensure continuous coverage for Western Wireless customers, and it would be built to allow for at least two other company’s antennas.

He said the location of the tower is 480 feet from the nearest property line and more than 1,300 feet from the county road.

Adding the tower would “directly benefit the local people” and enhance public safety, he said.

Garrett Lysiak, of Owl Engineering, reviewed the proposal for the county. He said said his study looks at the coverage and tries to minimize the height of the tower and maximize its coverage.

He reduced the height to 200 feet, but he said that “does not do the job that Western Wireless is proposing.”

Lysiak also searched for an existing site that may fulfill the same requirements. The closest tower is five miles away, but it is already full. “It would not do the job anyway,” he said.

“A 395-foot tower in this system seems to be acceptable. It meets the need and the ordinance,” he said.

The city of Lester Prairie did not object to the proposal, but it also offered an antennae location on its water tower. Larry Gasow, McLeod County zoning administrator, said the water tower is not tall enough.

Western Wireless’ proposal includes dual lights in which a strobe is on during the day and a red light is on at night. Lysiak suggested light shields be added to block the red lights at night from shining straight down.

He also said the ordinance recommends a mono-pole, but with the height of the proposed tower, a mono-pole would be unsightly because of the size it would be on the ground. The proposed construction with guidewires is acceptable.

Roger Karstens, planning commission member, asked about weed control, and Wyngarden said the majority of the 17 acres to be leased by Western Wireless will continue to be farmed. The anchors to the guide wires and the building at the base of the tower will be fenced. The weeds in those areas will be taken care of by the Western Wireless.

There also were some concerns voiced by neighboring property owners about interference with television or radio.

Lysiak said typically with that particular technology, there should be no interference.

The planning commission is recommending approval with the condition that light shields are installed, the county receive a copy of the annual radiation tests and that the tower complies with all the conditions required by the zoning ordinance.

It will be on the regular agenda of the McLeod County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Jan. 4.

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