Champlin City Council approved construction a cell tower on Jackson Middle School grounds at their March 25 council meeting. The effort has been nearly a year in the making. Most recently, city staff tabled the request several times at the beginning of 2013 in order to explore different placement.
The proposed placement for the 90-foot telecommunications tower for Verizon Wireless was in the southeast corner of Jackson Middle School property. According to Thomas Redmann, supervisor of sites and grounds for the school district, this is the best site. Some of the city council members were concerned with visibility issues at the proposed site. One suggestion was to look at erecting an antennae on one of the existing lights at the football field.
Both in a letter to Champlin City Planner Scott Schulte and in public comments delivered at the March 25 meeting, Redmann stated the district worked with the city and with Verizon to explore other possible locations but still felt the proposed location was the best. He commented at the meeting that the light poles at the football field would have to be disqualified as possible options since they were either not strong enough, tall enough or inappropriately placed to be viable. Two other cell companies do utilize a light pole at the football field but wouldn’t be able to support another one.
Schulte made a presentation suggesting the school district locate the tower another 40 feet away from the street. The facility would be more buffered by mature trees, Schulte said. He also said the placement would involve a setback variance which the city could support.
There was consensus on the council that the newly proposed location about 40 feet to the east would be a better option. However, Redmann expressed that the process, which has been quite lengthy, would have to begin all over again. Just to move the location 40 feet to the east would require new soil borings, design plans and other requirements outside of what the city would require because of federal regulations.
Redmann estimated it would cost Verizon another several thousand dollars and would cost the school district about $7,000 to $10,000 in revenue lost with another four month wait to establish the tower.
Councilor Kara Terry said she had a hard time with costing the school district that amount of revenue. She asked if they kept the tower and the current location if more trees could be planted to minimize the view of the tower.
After some discussion about trees, the council authorized keeping the cell tower at the proposed location on Jackson Middle School property near 109th Avenue and requiring more trees to be planted at staff’s discretion, up to double of what was in the original proposal.
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