Outrage Over Tower Decision
May 27, 2009 | 1360 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Editor:

Let’s just say it; the BOCC has not provided its constituents with honest services. The recent tower decision has trampled the very codes and bylaws the BOCC initiated and lived by with credibility… until now. They have virtually ignored the Land Use Code, the Visual Impact Code, their own bylaws, and violated our property rights in the process.

Now, what credibility does the BOCC have when they say a flashing beacon light will not be installed on the top of a 92-foot tower… zero. Of course, it too will be in the best interest of health, safety and welfare. Why wasn’t the “health, safety and welfare” concern brought up on the first proposed tower location adjacent to the fire station?

One concern is lightning strikes. It’s not unusual for a tower of this magnitude to be struck twice a day in the summer months. Typically, a tower of this height requires a substantial copper grounding grid of which will be difficult to successfully install in the existing rock landscape at that location. The potential for forest fires is heightened (over 10,000 a year caused by lightning) and, more importantly, hikers use the Park and Recreation easement very frequently in the summer months and will walk within inches of the tower.

This is a health, safety and welfare concern of the highest degree. In the event of an incident is the liability Verizon’s, Dallas Creek Water Company’s or the county’s due to the BOCC’s decision? Or, will it be a shared liability?

Common sense says you do not locate 80-foot cellular towers in residential subdivisions or in the common path of hikers… come on, common sense. There are other locations, if you take the time and interest in the community to look. The BOCC has been influenced by their peers and special interest groups, which resulted in expediting what many people consider a conflict of interest decision. They are the stewards of the land. Our forefathers would be disgraced with their lack of effort and poor judgment recently displayed.

Obviously the BOCC considers this decision as saving the community $100,000 by having Verizon pay for the tower while Dallas Creek Water Company collects their up front bonus and monthly lease, forever. All for a 12-foot emergency antenna that mounts on the top of the tower for the community needs. Now let’s follow the money: a little research on the internet under “cell towers” indicates typically the land owner, Dallas Creek Water Company, receives a $25,000 bonus up front and $800 to $1,000 or more per month leasing fee, not bad… for them.

I wonder if the Log Hill Homeowners water fees will be reduced as a result, due to the CC&R’s and water utility zoning?

Veteran realtors that have dealt with tower aftermath indicate a $25,000 decrease in property values on a $400,000 to $500,000 house if you can see a cellular tower from your house, and substantially more the closer you are to the tower. I guess one would call it tower front property.

There are over 100 houses that will have their pristine views impacted by the tower, and when they file appeals, that’s 100 x $25,000 = $2.5 million in lost valuation. Then consider the empty lots at four times the residential rate (houses at 7.96 percent, lots at 29 percent), the valuation loss is probably in the $40 million-$50 million range. If every residential lot files an appeal, which they should, this could equal approximately $500,000+ of income loss to the county. That’s not considering the additional litigation, labor costs and inefficiencies for the county and assessor’s office to ramp up for this negative effort. This is a very conservative estimate.

So one could estimate this $100,000 expedited cost savings ultimately will cost the county well in excess of $500,000 each and every year, and that’s probably a low estimate. This is the true definition of reverse logic. And, just because you can’t see the tower, doesn’t mean you’re not going to pay for it later.

In light of the current economy and slumping real estate values, the Jan. 1, 2008, to June 30, 2010, valuations will reveal a lower property tax base. And, in combination with the loss of real estate revenue from the tower impact, will give Ouray County, consisting of approximately 4,500 citizens, a huge deficit.

On top of what’s already happened to our economy, realtors will have more inventory that will not sell, contractors will have little to build, and the local restaurants will have less business, etc… all resulting in even less tax revenue to the county. Local realtors are addressing their liabilities with transaction disclosures within a one-mile radius of the tower, attesting to the above. This decision will be extremely detrimental to the entire community.

The BOCC needs to lead, not follow. The professional path to achieving community success is to stop now and look at the big picture. Verizon preys upon churches and fire departments, etc., to compromise their land for money, as they are usually under funded. Following special interest groups’ bias information and expediting issues like this out of peer pressure and fear are irresponsible and deemed a conflict of interest.

I think we all agree the fire department should have the emergency communications we need… for all our best interests. Property owners just don’t agree with the BOCC’s dictating approach, decision and involvement with private business. This tower location is not in the best interest of the community, now or in the future. Issues of this nature need to be set up for success, not trial and error failure.

Before Verizon expends a large sum of money, the BOCC needs to put a hold on this poorly conceived project and do the responsible thing… conduct an independent study to identify the locations that have adequate signal strengths for all communication uses, plan for those areas and revise the zoning as appropriate; both for now and the future. Wind powered generation towers should also be considered as part of this study.

You know, planning and zoning!

This would be responsible government for the entire community, as well saving a substantial amount of money and avoid potentially years of costly litigation. Move forward, not backwards as there will be more towers in the near future and we all know that.

Initiating a county bond to fund an independent study and cost of the emergency tower communications is cost effective and well founded. Take the time to make the correct decision and everyone will be rewarded, not just Verizon and Dallas Creek Water Company. This would be appreciated by the hundreds of property owners that can’t sleep at night with the thought of how the BOCC has impacted their quality of life… in so many ways. If this issue were put to a democratic vote it would be defeated, hands down.

Recently in Eureka, Calif., the city council put a hold on a 60-foot Verizon tower due to public outcry. The city council was then faced with a decision reversal and a $40,000-$50,000 law suit, plus damages, or proceed. To date their current decision is to let Verizon proceed. This situation is still evolving, and it’s very apparent they made the wrong decision up front. Verizon started construction without permits. Similar situations are currently happening across the country.

I am writing this editorial because this is a critical, pivotal decision that has destroyed many, many other communities. I’m sure the county that put up the sign on Route 550 that reads, Ouray County, “A Right To Farm Community” isn’t the same county that’s now endorsing tower farms.

Pat and Bruce Traegde, Ridgway
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