The Crook County Court took a step in adopting an order that will help planners when trying to decide in the future where best to allow tall antenna towers to be located in the county
The county has added a new wrinkle to the problem of where to locate cell phone antenna towers. A county order has been adopted that establishes land use fees for those making application for new towers.
The issue of where to allow antenna towers is fairly new to small and large communities alike. As the cell phone technology grows and more and more people come to rely on the instruments, the need for the towers also grows.
The question of how to control where the tall towers in Crook County are located came up when Spectrasite Inc., a company contracted to build a huge interstate system for the Sprint company, applied for two 150-foot tall towers. After many public hearings, one tower to be located along Highway 126 just off Wiley Road west of town was approved.
The second tower, slated for a site just outside the Prineville city limits on Willoughdale Road was reduced in height to 120 feet but then denied by the county planning commission. Appealed to the county court, and the height cut down to 100 feet, the planner's denial was overturned.
However the court gave the planning commission direction to come up with ideas for handling any future requests. The new court order is part of that.
In the future, a filing fee for each new cell tower for both site plan and conditional use application will be $3,000. That money will be used by the planning department to retain technical consultants to review the application. One issue the county planners had with the Spectrasite application for the Willoughdale Road site was the unwillingness of the applicant to consider other locations. Spectrasite's engineers claimed that various factors limited where the tower antenna could be located, but offered little backup to those requirements.
County Planning Director Peter Schannauer said, when discussing the new court order, that it is just in time. He mentioned that a cell phone antenna company from the Midwest had contacted him requesting information on the county's permit process. That company, which he didn't name, talked about possibly making application for a 300-foot antenna tower somewhere in the county.