Basalt reverses view on cell tower plan | AspenTimes.com

Basalt reverses view on cell tower plan

BASALT ” Sprint/Nextel officials convinced the Basalt Town Council this week that it can build telecommunications facilities on a key landmark in town without turning it into an eyesore.

The council voted 5-2 Tuesday night to grant the first of two approvals the company needs to erect towers for cellular service on “B Hill,” which looms over the town’s eastern end.

Sprint/Nextel representative Corey Shoft said her planning team worked hard to refine its proposal to address community concerns. The council voted 3-2 on Sept. 25 to direct its staff to prepare documents rejecting the telecommunication firm’s proposal. The board majority said at that time that the proposed facilities would have too great of visual impact on the town landmark.

There is sometimes a “B” on B Hill as a symbol of civic pride, although the whitewash is faded from rocks. A star has also been lit on the mountain for the holiday season for as long as anyone can remember.

Since September, Sprint/Nextel altered its plan to reduce the visual impact of its proposed facilities. Instead of placing towers near the mountaintop, it’s bringing them lower to a plateau. Two towers will replace the support structure for the famous star. Four additional towers will be clustered and shielded with faux tree branches.

Shoft said Sprint/Nextel abandoned a plan that would add tall monopoles for one that hides antennas with “little stealth trees.” The fake branches will be custom-ordered with a blend of green and brown, she said.

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In addition to the two towers which replace the poles supporting the star, four other towers will be clustered in groups of two and camouflaged, according to the application. The telecommunications company will also remove unneeded power poles on the hillside.

The refinements were enough to win votes of approval from Mayor Leroy Duroux and council members Amy Capron, Laurie Dows, Mark Kittle and Glenn Rappaport.

Councilmen Chris Seldin and Gary Tennenbaum said they remained concerned that the visual impact would be too great.

The proposal must return to the board for a public hearing and second review at a later date.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.