Towering pines? Nope, just towers
BASALT ” Basalt’s “B Hill” might sprout an instant forest of fake trees later this year.
The hill has been identified by Sprint/Nextel as a critical link in its cell service network. The company wants to place cell towers on the hill to help improve service along the Highway 82 corridor. Property owner Guido Meyer has agreed to lease the hilltop. Now the company needs town government approval.
B Hill draws its name from the “B” for Basalt that’s often spelled out in whitewashed rock. (It’s faded a bit right now.) The isolated hump is on the eastern edge of the Elk Run subdivision.
Because B Hill is so highly visible from vantage points around town, Sprint/Nextel proposed limiting the size of its towers and camouflaging them. The towers will be clustered into three groups, with heights ranging from 12 to 18 feet, the company’s application said. The antennas will be plastered with plastic pine tree branches to shield them and allegedly allow them to blend into the natural surroundings.
An earlier proposal for antennas up to 30 feet high was rejected. Planning commission members said a faux tree that tall would draw attention because it would tower over anything else on B Hill.
Commission members said Tuesday night that Sprint/Nextel’s revised plan was more acceptable. Nevertheless, they delayed a decision until July 3 to give the public an additional chance to comment.
Only one couple showed up at a meeting Tuesday night to voice their concerns. Even they said that if Sprint/Nextel’s field work turns out as good as the photo depictions of the screening, it would be tolerable.
A plastic branch brought to the meeting resembled the material used in fake Christmas tree wreathes. A Sprint/Nextel spokeswoman said the material should last “several years” before deteriorating and requiring replacement. The manufacturer hasn’t figured out a way to make the plastic branches turn brown as they age, to mimic the appearance of Colorado’s disease-ridden pine forests.
Once the application is voted on by the planning commission, it will advance to review by the Town Council.
Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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