Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
April 16, 2001
Present: Mike Davis, Dirk Mace, Connie Otteson, Kurt Eidam, Kerry Cottrell, Linda Crapo, Deb Coleman, and Rod Dalling. Karen Lords – P&B Administrator, Sue Sommer – P&Z Secretary,
Other Attendees: Jesse Lassley (SBA Towers), Tom Ditterick (Sprint PCS), Gene Boyle (Ashton Property) and David Monselle (Representing Land Acquisitions/US Cellular).
WELCOME: Mike Davis called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m.
MINUTES: Minutes were reviewed prior to the opening of this meeting. Dirk Mace motioned to accept the minutes as written. Linda Crapo seconded the motion and it was approved unopposed.
PUBLIC HEARING – SBA TOWERS (CELL TOWER) – BOYLE PROPERTY IN ASHTON, IDAHO Karen Lords advised that proper notice was mailed out, posted and published as required. The Board Members declared that there was no conflict of interest and therefore the Public Hearing can go forward. Karen Lords provided in the packets copies of the Permit Application, Public Notice, sketch maps, Plan and Development Review of the proposed project. Karen read the Planning and Building Administrator’s Report, which explained the Nature of the Application, Site Description-Analysis, Applicable Performance Standards along with P&B Administrator’ recommendations. Karen passed out and then read three letters to the Board Members, of which did not arrive until after mailing of the Agenda Packets:
Letter from Lynn J. Allison (in opposition to this project) Letter from James G. Young (in opposition to this project) Comment letter from John A. Hansen (for Bob Saban) Idaho Fish & Game – Upper Snake Region – Regional Supervisor
Jesse Lassley reviewed what SBA Towers is and what their proposal has been and what direction SBA Towers is heading for future development. Mr. Lassley stated that SBA is looking at building this tower, using the easement through Boyles property, through Grand View Estates, using the dirt road access that is already located there. There will be a monthly scheduled pickup truck using the access easement to do a maintenance check. SBA Towers will be laying gravel and doing a landscaping/vegetation barrier around the tower and SBA states that if any damage occurs to the road access during the construction they will repair. Information pamphlet/handout was distributed, stating the facts relating to concerns relating to microwave radiation. This handout assured the public that the tower does not have the same radiation concerns that the public has expressed. There was a short question and answer discussion from the board members relating to:
Grand View Estates access road – re: plat map easement to Boyle’s property vs homeowner’s association. Several P&Z Board Members questioned the legality as to the access to the Boyles’ property. Karen Lords stated that this would be an issue to be determined by a judge, not by the P&Z. The P&Z can, however, make a conditional approval of this application, based on the easement issue being resolved. Mr. Lassley stated that this would be agreeable. Mr. Lassley indicated that the towers proposed location would be ¾ of a mile from the North end Grand View Estates and toward the back of the Boyle property. Winter access via snow machine Gun Range location, relative to this tower Lighting on tower, relative to FAA and Fish & Game issues
Chairman, Mike Davis, opened the meeting to Public Comment. He asked that Public Comment be limited to 3 minutes each. Public Comments were made by:
Suzette Bollinger: Had concerns about how ‘power’ would be provided to the tower. Mr. Lassley responded that after speaking to the power company, power would be pulled directly off Grand View Estates and go under the actual easement provided to the Boyle property. Suzette had concerns about Grand View Estate residents having paid for maintenance and improvements within the Subdivision and that the Boyle family, nor SBA Towers, are sharing the expenses to maintain the roads, etc. going to the Boyle property. She had other health issue concerns relating to cancer in her family. She was avidly against the tower being placed on the Boyle property. If and when she decides to build on her property, the tower would block her view. Also, if Boyles are so sure they have access through Grand View Estates, why did they approach the Ashton City Council asking for access through the ‘dump’ road and asking for an easement there? She did not feel there was an access through Grand View Estates.
Gene Berger: Declared that he is a personal friend to the Boyle family and has a lot of respect for them. He did, however, have concerns about the access to the road through Grand View Estates. The county has denied any help with maintenance on the roads through Grand View Estates. Karen Lords stated that according to the ‘Recorded Plat Map for Grand View Estates’ that there was a temporary easement granted through Grand View Estates ‘until the road was further extended’ (Dated in 1983). If there is an Amended and Recorded Plat Map’ indicating any subsequent changes, the P&B Department does not maintain any Amended maps in their office. According to County Ordinances, Sub-division roads are considered privately owned and are set up to be privately maintained by the property owners prior to Sub-division construction even beginning. Gene had concerns over health issues, devaluation of the property and the access issue to Boyle’s property. Karen advised the Board and Mr. Berger that the ‘legal’ access issue is an issue that should be handled outside of this Planning & Zoning Meeting. This issue could end up before a judge/court and the courts are the ones that need to decide this issue. The Board can, however, make a condition of approval that the Boyles have two years, if they are granted approval to complete their project, and they would have to prove to the P&B/P&Z that they REALLY do have legal access to the property.
Clair Allison: He agreed with the issues mentioned earlier, but wanted to direct attention to Air Flights going over the hill near the site of the proposed tower. Military, crop dusters, LifeFlight and private pilots fly directly over this area and he had a concern about the lighting. Karen responded that this issue has been pre-addressed by Idaho Ag Aviation, Air Idaho and Bannock LifeFlight. They have been advised of the aviation location and the height of the proposed towers, to help assist in plotting flights around the areas of construction. Mr. Allison, also, had concerns relevant to maintenance of the road that SBA Towers plans to use during and after construction. Jesse Lassley assured Mr. Allison that SBA Towers plans on taking care of any damage made to the road during the initial construction travel to and from the Boyle property, but would not commit to any type of maintenance after completion of the project. Mr. Lassley’s point was that a pickup truck may drive up to the site once a month to do maintenance on the leased tower property and the drive through Grand View Estates would not necessitate doing maintenance to a road that may or may not be used but possibly 10-12 times a year (and of which, more likely, would be accessed by snow machine rather than the road through Grand View Estates).
Marcy Christensen: Agreed with issues discussed earlier but has continued concerns over wildlife. She indicated that she wants to maintain their privacy and did not feel that the Boyle’s should have access/right-of-way to their property.
Tom Ditterick: He stated that he represents Sprint PCS. They decided to go with SBA Towers because the type of towers that provide services for cell companies are much more safer and are strategically and most advantageously located to make service much more reliable to their customers. Maintenance is a covered service in their agreement and, therefore, alleviates any upkeep on their part. Because the cell tower companies regularly handle all of the issues relevant to FAA regulations, notifying local emergency services, airports and life flight units – it made sense for them to have SBA Towers do all the work that they are used to doing, on a regular/normal basis. He indicated that SBA Towers is also handling them as a Carrier on several other towers that they are erecting in the area. They HAD contacted several other tower companies for placement on their towers but had been reminded by their RV engineers that if the current occupant carriers were getting poor reception on the towers already. It would not be advantageous, nor in the best interest of their prospective customers, to utilize a tower that is not getting the needed expanded coverage (especially in the Island Park area and north).
Paul Wynn: When questioned by the P&Z Board about the City’s feeling about the access road to the Gun Club, he stated that he did not wish to make any public comment relevant to the City’s standing on this issue. The City is just waiting to see what transpires at this meeting, tonight, and that he wanted to state that ‘our options are still open.’ The main reason Mr. Wynn is at this meeting is to get a clearer understanding as to what is transpiring with the cell tower and to be able to relay this information to whomever asks. He did want to clear up the rumor about there being an environmental issue at the City Landfill. SBA Tower’s representative, Jessie Lassley, reassured him that there was no environmental or toxic waste issue AT ALL. He apologized for this misunderstanding. The only issue they had run into was the stability of the ground. Being this is an issue of building/erecting a structure that is 250’ tall, their company requires a good solid foundation to place the tower on. The history of this proposed location has been a landfill and, obviously, they do not know what can be under the ground and how it can affect the tower structure in the future. They had to take all the gathered information to their engineering department and from that information they determined the most advantageous and safe place to erect their proposed towers. This information was the reason that they had decided not to build on the City of Ashton’s property.
Stacy Wynn: Her main concern was over the access issue. She did not agree that there is an easement for the Boyle family. There has been a lack of communication between the Boyle family and the landowners in Grand View Estates and that was the reason she was attending this meeting.
Gene Boyle: He briefly told the history of this particular piece of property. Over twenty-five years ago, the farmers were given access to the ground, not only through Grand View but up through the landfill/dump. Over the years, people (not only in Grand View Estates and Aspen Subdivision) have loved to snowmobile through their property to the national forest. That access has always been there and he feels that NOW is not the time to tell them that they do not have access to their own property. Mr. Boyle asked that the board take the history of this property into consideration when making a final decision.
Ted Austin: His main concern was the environmental issues. He stated that he encourages ‘clustering’of towers. He itemized several issues required by the FAA and wished to know if these issues had been addressed. Mr. Lassley, satisfactorily, responded to all the addressed issues.
Mike Davis closed the meeting to further Public Comments. The Board Members had a lengthy discussion about this project and on all the documentation provided by SBA Towers, obviously, meet all the County, State and Federal requirements. Kurt Eidam motioned to make a conditional approval of this application, based on the access and/or easement issue being resolved (within two years - to have the project actually completed) and the FAA regulations being met regarding the lighting on the tower. It was suggested that a light guard be placed under the light, to dim the ground view of the required lighting. It was seconded by Dirk Mace and carried unopposed.
PUBLIC HEARING – CELL TOWER – PIECE OF THE ROCKIES PROPERTY – SBA TOWERS
Karen Lords properly posted and published Public Hearing notices for this development. Karen Lords provided in the packets copies of the Permit Application, Notice of Hearing, sketch maps, Plan and Development Review of the proposed project. Karen read the Planning and Building Administrator’s Report, which explained the Nature of the Application, Site Description-Analysis, Applicable Performance Standards along with P&B Administrator’ recommendations.
Jessie Lassley, representative for SBA Towers, briefly reviewed the proposed construction and after a brief question and answer session Chairman, Mike Davis, opened the discussion for ‘public comment.’ Chairman, Mike Davis, opened the meeting to Public Comment. He asked that Public Comment be limited to 3 minutes each. Public Comments were made by:
Tom Ditterick: As a representative for Sprint, he briefly described his companies objective to be a carrier located on this proposed tower.
Ted Austin: With a background link in the communications field, Mr. Austin commented on the possible multiple future digital/analog communication tower applications that will be coming into our area. His suggestion was to get the background knowledge needed get these up-coming towers to be built up to the required codes. Regulations need to be drafted up and put into place as soon as possible. He suggested a moratorium be placed on cell phone tower construction until regulations can be put in place (as was done in Teton County, on their Subdivision regulations/ordinances).
Karen Lords stated that in order to be able to have moratorium, there has to be a real safety or health reason. This is not the case in Fremont County dealing with cell towers. If Mr. Austin has any information contrary to this understanding, this Board and the County would appreciate him providing it to us. But, as it stands now, this is not an emergency safety or health issue and therefore, according to the law, we cannot hold back any permit applications for moratorium reasons. Ms. Lords and Chairman Mike Davis reminded Mr. Austin that he had, publicly, reassured everyone at the last few cell tower hearings, that these proposed towers DO NOT have any health related concerns (microwave) and, therefore, the moratorium for health reasons would be unfounded at this point.
Mike Davis closed the meeting to further Public Comments. After a brief Board discussion over this application, Deb Coleman motioned to approve this application under the conditions listed on the Administrators Report. It was seconded by Connie Otteson and carried unopposed.
SKETCH PLAN – CELL TOWER – PIECE OF THE ROCKIES –LAND ACQUISITIONS Karen Lords provided Board the information/letter from David Monselle of Land Acquisitions, Inc., stating their proposed development on the Piece of the Rockies property located directly across from the County Landfill/dump outside of St. Anthony, Idaho and adjacent to the property leased by SBA Towers.
David Monselle briefly recapped his company’s (Land Acquisitions) tower proposal. The tower will be a 150’ self-supported communications tower with a 12x20’ equipment shelter. He indicated that he is here representing US Cellular in this proposed construction. US Cellular wishes to have exclusive rights on this particular tower and they have contracted Land Acquisitions to erect the tower for their use. Land Acquisitions has been contacted by several other cell phone companies and have, like US Cellular, asked for exclusive use tower price quotes and suggest that the County P&Z be prepared for several future projects. After a lengthy discussion, Board member, Kurt Eidam, motioned to accept the Sketch Plan and proceed with Public Hearing on this project. Linda Crapo seconded the motion and was approved unopposed.
Karen Lords handed out two pamphlets, one on the recommended Code Amendment Changes and the other on Lot Split/Land Division Information. Karen stated that the ‘times have changed’ since the original adoption of the Fremont County Development Codes. This ‘changing of times’ necessitates a reviewing and amending of the codes to fit the current and upcoming situations. Karen asked Trent Grant, Prosecuting Attorney, to attend this meeting to give any legal advise relevant to the proposed Code Amendment changes. Karen reviewed:
• Lot Splits/Land Division Information • Large Scale Development vs Smaller Scale Development o Installing hard phone lines vs not required installing hard phone lines o 2.5 acre parcels or smaller requiring to connect to community sewer vs 2.5 acres or larger not required to install and connect to community sewer • Revising language of codes to update meeting State Laws changes in language • Setbacks from Land Application Field at 1000 ft. • Advising Developers of changes to: o Fremont-Madison Irrigation District changes to storage water relevant to Subdivision of any property. o Wetlands – US Army Corps of Engineers issued final rules revising the wetlands nationwide permit program. • Minor Subdivision Ordinance 84-3 – no major changes to new street or road, extension of municipal facilities, creation of public improvements, not adversely affecting remainder of parcels or adjoining property and not more than ten (10) lots fronting on an existing street. • Recommendations for minor subdivision (suggested by Lee Nellis back in 1995)
Mike Davis asked Trent Grant if the Prosecuting Attorney’s office is willing to stand behind any violations that are given for not abiding by the Development Codes. His response was that it depended on the type of violations they are and what evidence is presented to him. Karen explained that the Title Companies are not held accountable to abide by any rules and regulations in the zoning codes. She gave an example of how this has happened in the past and these are the types of violations that Trent is talking about when he says ‘he may or he may not’ be able to enforce the Development Code violations. These types of violations would have to be reviewed on a ‘as they come up’ basis.
After a lengthy discussion, the Board and Prosecuting Attorney, Trent Grant, decided that they would continue to study and research the suggested code change list and at a future date continue the discussion to make plans to amend the codes. It was obvious to the Board that there are more issues to be discussed before hastily finalizing any amended codes.
Kerry Cottrell presented his resignation letter to Karen Lords, P&B Administrator. Kerry and his wife Julie are moving to Boise, Idaho. Good Luck, Kerry. We will all miss you.
ADJOURN Linda Crapo made a motion to adjourn the meeting and it was seconded by Connie Otteson and approved unopposed. Meeting was adjourned at 10:00 p.m.