Verizon applies for building permit for new cell tower in Basalt, timing uncertain |

Verizon applies for building permit for new cell tower in Basalt, timing uncertain

A patron of Whole Foods Market in Willits uses her phone. Getting a signal in the midvalley area can be a challenge for Verizon customers.

Verizon Wireless has applied to the town of Basalt for a permit to construct a tower designed to improve cellphone service in the midvalley, but the company doesn't have a timeline yet for the project.

Verizon submitted an application Feb. 16 and the request is being processed by the town building and planning staffs. Verizon must supply further information on a site plan and provide a construction management plan, two standard conditions for a building permit, said James Lindt, Basalt assistant planning director.

"They're actively working on it," Lindt said. "They're very close."

Verizon received land-use approval from the Town Council last fall for the tower in the Basalt Industrial Center, near Valley Lumber and Woody Creek Distillers.

Verizon spokeswoman Meagan Dorsch said the company is still awaiting regulatory approvals unrelated to the town of Basalt.

"It is our business practice to apply for permits in anticipation on when we hope to receive full regulatory approval on a cell site," Dorsch wrote in an email. "At this time, we have not received all the necessary approvals to begin construction. Since this process is out of our control, as is weather this time of year, we are not able to provide a precise timeline on when this site will be operational."

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Verizon's application for the building permit was submitted three days after the council approved a strongly worded letter demanding improvements in service. The Basalt Chamber of Commerce sent a separate letter on behalf of its members.

Both letters said Basalt residents and visitors in Willits Town Center and other parts of the midvalley suffer from dropped calls and inability to make calls or send texts and emails. The council letter said the issue goes beyond inconvenience. The poor service affects the ability to conduct business or make emergency service calls.

"We ask that Verizon prioritize and expedite capital improvements to its cellular infrastructure in Basalt, with a long-term plan for the inevitable growth in bandwidth needs," a passage in the chamber letter says. "If Verizon can't even keep up now, how will service (or lack thereof) look in five to 10 years?"

Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said he hasn't received a response from Verizon to the town's letter.