County nixes second Verizon cell antenna plan near Glenwood |

County nixes second Verizon cell antenna plan near Glenwood

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Verizon Wireless has failed a second time to win Garfield County approval for a new cell phone antenna site south of Glenwood Springs.A vote by county commissioners on the plan Monday resulted in a tie, which spelled defeat for the proposal. Commissioners heard from residents concerned about the facility’s possible effects on property values and health.Verizon wanted to place two sets of four, 4-foot-high antennas on a building under construction at the Glenwood Commercial LLC site on the east side of Highway 82. The building will be the farthest from the highway of four buildings on the property, which sits between Roaring Fork Plumbing & Heating and Colorado West Upholstery.County commissioners had denied a proposed cell antenna location at the upholstery property in 2005.”I think the reasons that you turned it down before are still there,” said Don Lynch, who along with his wife Christine owns rental housing in the vicinity.He said the antennas should be placed “where they’re not in somebody’s backyard shooting their beams at them 24 hours a day.”Other property owners in the area also said they were worried about possible health impacts from the antenna’s radio frequency emissions.Whether such emissions can cause diseases such as cancer remains a matter of national debate. But assistant Garfield County attorney Michael Howard said federal regulations prevent counties from rejecting cell antenna proposals based on health concerns.”That’s where those concerns need to be addressed, on the federal level,” he said.But residents feared that health concerns also could hurt nearby property values if the nearby cell phone facility were approved.Representatives for Verizon said its radio frequency emissions would have been less than 2 percent of what the Federal Communications Commission allows. Ann Closser, a consultant for Verizon, also said studies in places such as El Paso County show cell phone sites cause no discernible impact on property values.Closser said Verizon also has installed cell phone antennas on lots of hospitals.”Doctors and medical personnel use cell phones all the time. These are experts in the (health) field,” she said.County Commissioner Larry McCown voted in favor of Verizon’s proposal, and doubted that it would hurt property values.”I guess the way the real estate market is in this area, I just can’t envision that something as innocuous as what’s proposed today will have any adverse effect,” he said.Addressing another concern sometimes raised about cell phone facilities – their visibility – he said this one would have been barely noticeable.Commissioner John Martin voted against the plan because he said Verizon had failed to fully explore the possibility of adding the antennas to existing cell phone facilities in the area. The county has encouraged co-locating cell phone antennas to minimize impacts, including those to neighborhoods, he said.He said Verizon’s proposed location “may not be in the best interests of the neighborhood and those that live there.”Commissioner Trési Houpt was absent Monday because she was participating in a meeting of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, of which she is a member. County planning proposals can’t be approved on tie votes.Closser had no immediate comment on what course of action Verizon might take following Monday’s decision.Verizon is looking for a site to try to fill a coverage gap for customers in the southern part of Glenwood Springs, including travelers on Highway 82. Closser said it had looked at a possible site at the city’s fairgrounds but that raised concerns about antennas physically interfering with flight paths at the adjacent municipal airport.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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