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Cell towers given green light by Land Management

Are you ever driving down the winding roads of Pierce County, cursing your lack of cell phone service?

That may improve, though how much is hard to say, thanks to three new cell phone towers set to be erected in Pierce County.

The Land Management Committee approved three requested height exemptions for towers at its Sept. 21 meeting, said land management director Andy Pichotta.

AT&T is proposing to build three towers exceeding 35 feet in height. The locations proposed are:

  • A 150-foot self-support tower in the town of Ellsworth, accessed off 530th Street. The property, to be leased by AT&T, is currently agricultural land owned by Richard Holm.

  • A 150-foot self-support tower in the town of Martell, off of 690th Street. The agricultural land belongs to Ernest Koukal.

  • Another 150-foot support tower would be located in the town of Clifton off County Road F. The current pasture is owned by Boni LaVelle-Bjerke.

In 2013, state law almost entirely preempted local control over the siting of mobile service/cell towers said Pichotta. The zoning ordinance had to be amended to reflect those changes.

“The allowable height of cell towers is now treated in a manner consistent with commercial and industrial structures,” Pichotta said. “The Zoning Code states that industrial and commercial structure heights may be granted exemptions by the Land Management Committee, provided that all required setback and yards are increased by not less than one foot for each foot the structure exceeds 35 feet. This is the exemption that the applicant requested.”

Land management staff visited each location and observed no structures located within the 150-foot fall zones of the proposed towers.

“If the applicant submits engineering certification that reveals that the tower support structure is designed to collapse within a smaller area than the requirements of the zoning code, the certified fall zone shall be applied to the setback requirements,” Pichotta said. “The applicant submitted certification for a reduced fall zone for the tower proposed to be constructed in the Town of Clifton.  The setbacks for this proposed tower were adjusted accordingly.”

All the proposed towers are required to be set back 157 feet from town road right-of-ways.

Pichotta gave no timeline for the completion of the towers.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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