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Communications tower approved

Posted: Thursday, Aug 14th, 2014

DEL NORTE – A proposal by Jade Communications (gojade.org) and owner Alan Wehe to replace the existing 70’ telecommunications tower with a 180’ tower at the location of the Monte Vista Co-op was approved by the Rio Grande County Commissioners at the meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 6.

The tower had been previously approved by the Rio Grande County Planning and Zoning Commission at a meeting on July 22. No comments were received by the commissioners from the public regarding the proposal by Wehe during that time.

“We want to reiterate that it is a communications tower, not a cell phone tower,” said Land Use Administrator Rose Vanderpool. “The planning and zoning commission recommended approval pending the requirement of House Bill 14-1216 regarding telecommunications towers.”

Vanderpool said that telecommunications towers are exempt from rules pertaining to cell phone towers, such as the ones operated by AT&T, Verizon and Viaero.

The commissioners asked for clarification between a cell tower designation and a communications tower. Vanderpool said a communications tower delivers internet and telephone landline service, as well as microwave transmissions.

Commissioner Karla Shriver asked about having a beacon on the top of the tower to alert aircraft flying in the vicinity. Wehe said there was no such requirement for a beacon. There was also a question by Commissioner Doug Davie about lightning striking the tower.

“What we do is put a ground field all the way around it,” said Wehe. “The ground field is connected by cables that run about eight feet deep into the ground. If lightning strikes the tower, it goes straight into the ground.”

The motion to grant a conditional use permit for the Jade Communications telecommunications tower was unanimously approved.

The commissioners also passed a resolution banning the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), which is in line with the existing prohibition of smoking cigarettes or usage of tobacco products in county-owned buildings. The resolution will prohibit the usage of e-cigarettes within and/or within 15 feet of any public buildings, which includes the county jail.

The electronic nicotine delivery systems can be used with cannabis oil, as well as nicotine and the two methods/ingredients are virtually indistinguishable when in use except for a slight odor with the cannabis oil.

“There is barely a smell with the marijuana oil,” said Undersheriff Ed Rapps. “The nicotine liquid or vapor has no smell whatsoever.”

The commissioners agreed to amend a 2012 Homeland Security grant that would reallocate funds from a training designation to an equipment designation to better utilize the money for needed items.

County Administrator Suzanne Benton presented a request from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for a list of intersections to be improved by CDOT that are priorities for the county. They would like the list by Aug. 20.

“They already have our list from 1999, 2003 and 2008 of priorities that still have not been completed,” said Benton.

“County Road 19 has been on our list of priority improvements for 30 years,” said Davie.

“It’s a joke,” said Benton.

Representatives from CDOT will have a meeting in September with the commissioners.

For the complete article see the 08-14-2014 issue.

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