2/27/2014 4:56:00 PM Tower opposition staying alive at council open mic
by DENISE MARTIN
by DENISE MARTIN Wyoming residents wanting council to reject an application for a 75 foot cell phone tower southwest of Comfort Lake, used the public comment portion of the city council meeting to express their opposition last week. The residents asked council to “just say no” when the planning commission sends a recommendation up on a pending Conditional Use Permit. They also asked that the city zoning code be revised to disallow communications towers in any residential area of Wyoming. Bonnie Christensen said the site proposed has no tree cover or vegetative buffer and there’s no way the tower could be camouflaged from neighbors. Sally Sahr told council nearby property values will be negatively affected. John Koalska questioned why available alternative sites had been rejected by Verizon. Ray Horstrom added the neighborhood should “come first,” and felt that locating a tower on dry valuable ground, subdivideable into expensive homesites, was not the best use of the site.
Neil Rever suggested the city require Verizon to co-locate on other nearby towers, and questioned why one section of city code restricts towers in a residential zone to 30 feet, while the city is also allowing this 75 foot project to be considered. Denise Davis told council “100 percent of us don’t want” the permit to be approved. She said communications antennae ought to go onto public sites (like atop schools, water towers) so lease payments for tower space benefit the public. The planning commission has tabled the Verizon Conditional Use Permit until its April meeting (story in Press Feb 13) due to follow-up information being developed by the applicant. Verizon’s proposed tower site is on 250th, just east of the intersection with Hazel, north of Highway 8. Mayor Eric Peterson responded at the end of public comment that the city has many questions too, and the issue just has to await the planning commission receiving more information in April. In other matters: ~ The council set the city’s Board of Equalization for April 21, at city hall, at 6 p.m. This is when you can ask questions of county staff about your property’s market valuation and begin appeal if you want. ~ Council also voted 5-0 to adopt a 20-80 policy for its assessment manual.
City Administrator Craig Mattson said it’s simply one tool in the tool box and each road project can still be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for assessment levels. Wyoming will be able to assess 20 percent of roadwork project costs against benefitting properties under this policy. This policy also allows 51 percent of affected property owners to petition for a project. If a project is started by petition it only takes a simple majority of council to order the work. If not initiated by petition council has to vote at least 4-1 to okay. Projects that won’t be assessed include maintenance of existing asphalt like overlays, patching, crack seal/fill and plowing. The city will charge-back the 20 percent of project costs for bituminous streets being reconstructed. If a gravel street is being upgraded and paved, that will be assessed to benefitting property owners 100 percent, as are the new streets being built as part of an incoming housing development.