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LETTER: Cell tower vote raises questions

To The Telegram, On April 11, the Douglas County Zoning Board voted 3-1 in favor of a permit to build a 195-foot, unlighted, monopole cell tower on the east side of Lake St. Croix. This new tower design replaces the original proposal for a 300-fo...

To The Telegram,

On April 11, the Douglas County Zoning Board voted 3-1 in favor of a permit to build a 195-foot, unlighted, monopole cell tower on the east side of Lake St. Croix. This new tower design replaces the original proposal for a 300-foot tower with red and white strobe lights.

Carol Johnson, the Douglas County Zoning Board chairwoman, voted against the 195-foot tower proposal and publicly favored a 300-foot tower. Why would a public official take such a stance?

The Lake St. Croix cell tower controversy had already come to a successful resolution. A committee designated by the Solon Springs Town Board made a recommendation for the 195-foot proposal. In addition, it was accepted by the immediate land owners, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, our local county supervisor, our new town chairman and numerous residents who submitted letters and e-mails to the county zoning office in support of the proposal. According to county officials, there were no letters or e-mails on file with the county in support of a 300-foot tower.

Throughout the cell tower debate, there was never a question that good cell phone coverage is important for emergency services, but not even the director of emergency management or the Douglas County sheriff was willing to support a specific tower design, height or location. Cellular One and Minnesota Tower's Inc. agreed to the 195-foot tower and modified their application accordingly prior to the meeting. For all practical purposes, a 300-foot tower was no longer an option.

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Who was Ms. Johnson representing when she voted against the proposal and publicly supported a 300-foot tower? It certainly wasn't the residents of Solon Springs; they overwhelmingly supported the shorter tower, which has less of a visual impact on the lake and surrounding community.

When citizens agree to work with both local government and the private sector to create solutions to problems, public officials have both an obligation and responsibility to be supportive.

--Chuck Walt,

Solon Springs

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