by Sandia Belgrade

Commnet Wireless out of Colorado Springs, is pursuing another effort to put up a cell tower in the Crestone area near Casita Park. They have signed an agreement with a local resident to put up a cell phone tower on his private property, despite the fact that a proposed cell tower on Baca Grande POA property was rejected by area residents and the POA Board just 2 months ago.

The proposed communication site where the tower would be located is 552 Camino Del Oro West. The Lot sits just northeast of the Casita Park boundary. Scott Johnson is leasing the property to Commnet for an undisclosed amount of money. He doesn’t think a tower is dangerous nor does he feel the tower will block the view of the mountains from Casita Park homes. However, the residents in the homes in the Park closest to the tower are only a few hundred feet away. It is curious why Commnet would select a site so close to residents and possibly invite more opposition especially since Johnson himself does not care where it is placed on his property. It will be Commnet, not he, he said, that will be involved in the public hearings and decision. (He feels that a cell tower would not discourage people from building on his property if he decides to develop the land.)

Status of the application

Cindy Phillips of Commnet Wireless said that it is industry

practice to contract out site acquisition to a consultant. Phillips herself manages approximately 1400 sites, which is why these tasks are contracted out. It is the contractor who will be making an application to the County.

As of press time, Wendi Maez, Land Use Director for the county, still had not received a request for an application.  According toMaez, the County requires 45 days notification to get everyone’s comments back at least 10 days prior to a PC meeting. Lisa Cyriacks, chairperson of the Crestone/Baca planning commission, said the process is as follows: The County has height restrictions of 40 feet. Therefore, the county commissioners would have to issue a variance to build a 150 ft tower on that property. If it involves a zoning change to commercial—the property may now be zoned agricultural or residential— then a conditional use permit is required. The height variance might also be addressed through the conditional use permit process. The county requires 35 days notification of adjoining property owners for a conditional use application.

The Crestone/Baca Planning Commission (CBPC) will make a recommendation to the Saguache  County Commissioners who will set a date for the public hearing before a final decision is reached. The CBPC meeting to review would be open to the public, but it’s not a public hearing.  People can submit comments either in person or in writing prior to the meeting. The Board of County Commissioners could make a decision at their next public meeting.  Should the decision be made to hold a public hearing, the County requires a 30 day notice prior to holding a public hearing. Commnet will be also be sending out public notices on the matter.

The Crestone Eagle website will carry updated information as it comes in so residents will be able to follow the status of the application.