Verizon Wireless proposes new tower at Canyons Resort
Verizon Wireless cell phone customers near the Canyons may be getting better cell phone coverage.
Verizon Wireless Communications sent Summit County an initial notice on Tuesday regarding its proposal to build a 107-foot-tall telecommunications tower at the Canyons Resort, according to county Planning and Zoning Administrator Peter Barnes.
The general location Verizon proposed in its initial letter is adjacent to the Iron Mountain Express lift in the Canyons Resort. It would be a stealth, monopine telecommunications tower. Barnes said it is his understanding that type of tower is disguised to look like a pine tree to better blend in with the environment, especially in mountainous regions.
"The tower proposal is not necessarily something that shocks or surprises us," he said.
Construction of the tower would necessitate a low-impact permit under Summit County Code, Barnes said, which entails a process similar to a conditional review.
"We go through the same criteria and this could actually be decided in-house at the director level, without going to the Planning Commission," Barnes said. "It’s a fairly traditional, normal process for the allowed use of a conditional permit in terms of the application process, unless it is considered an impact to the environment."
Based on Verizon’s general description of the location, the tower would be adjacent to an existing ski lift at the Canyons Resort.
Once the county receives the application for the permit, Barnes said the process of studying the tower’s visual impact on the surrounding environment would begin.
But, the county is limited in its power regarding telecommunications towers under Federal Communications Commission regulations, Barnes said.
"Our tendency is to look favorably on them," he said. "We would look more favorably on it if it would be an extension to an existing structure. But if it is considered a significant impact to the surrounding environment, we would let them know we prefer it to be relocated elsewhere."
At this point, though, the notice is just a place holder until the application is received.
"Without the application, we don’t have much to say because we don’t know much," Barnes said.
Meagan Dorsch, Verizon Wireless’ public relations manager for the Mountain Region, said in an email to The Park Record that the Mountain Rift area is where additional coverage and capacity is needed, which is why Verizon is seeking to build a tower in the area.
"The terrain in mountain communities poses unique challenges," Dorsch said. "Wireless really means "wireless" from the cell site to the phone. Calls still have to be carried via fiber optic cables or microwave from the cell site to a switching facility. This is often difficult to do in mountainous areas."
Verizon Wireless has contracted with environmental consulting firm Tetra Tech, in Bloominton, Minnesota, to conduct the impact review.
Public comments about the potential effects of the tower in the area can be submitted prior to Dec. 24 to Molly Kuisle with Tetra Tech via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (612) 643-2231 .
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