LARIMER COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION
Minutes of June 17, 2009
The Larimer County Planning Commission met in a regular session on Wednesday, June 17, 2009, at 6:30 p.m. in the Hearing Room. Commissioners Benton, Cox, Glick, Hart, Hess, Wallace, and Weitkunat were present. Commissioner Oppenheimer was absent. Commissioner Morgan presided as Chairman. Also present were Matt Lafferty, Principle Planner, Karin Madson, Planner, II, Traci Shambo, Engineering Department, Doug Ryan, Health Department and Jill Wilson, Planning Technician and Recording Secretary.
Matt Lafferty accompanied Commissioners’ Cox, Glick, Wallace, and Weitkunat today on a site visit to Verizon-Virginia Dale CMRS Special Review.
COMMENTS BY THE PUBLIC REGARDING THE COUNTY LAND USE CODE:
COMMENTS BY THE PUBLIC REGARDING OTHER RELEVANT LAND USE MATTERS NOT ON THE AGENDA:
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES FOR THE MAY 20, 2009 MEETINGS: MOTION by Commissioner Wallace to approve the minutes, seconded by Commissioner Glick. This received unanimous voice approval.
AMENDMENTS TO THE AGENDA:
ITEM #1 VERIZON-VIRGINIA DALE CMRS SPECIAL REVIEW #09-Z1718: Ms. Madson provided background information on the request for a CMRS facility for Verizon Wireless consisting of a 160-foot free standing tower (capable of future collocation for 3 carriers) along with an equipment shelter in a 60’ by 60’ lease area located on the east side of Highway 287, southeast of the Virginia Dale Church. She noted that the access to the site would be from Highway 287 via an existing ranch road and the utilities for the site would be placed underground. The proposed tower was designed to fill a gap in coverage that was along that particular stretch of Highway 287 as many carriers lost signals in that area. The tower was not proposed to be lit but would have a light on the equipment building for maintenance workers. She remarked that the biggest concern was the visibility of the tower and one neighbor did submit a letter of opposition along with an email. She explained that under the CMRS regulations in the Larimer County Land Use Code there were different types of preferred facilities, and the proposed tower was the least preferred type. As a result, staff asked the applicant to consider collocation on an existing tower such as the CSU-Maxwell Ranch tower to the south, and also a tower over the Wyoming line along Highway 287. She stated that the Development Services Team was recommending approval of the facility with conditions.
Commissioner Hart asked where the opposing neighbors’ property was located?
Ms. Madson replied that it was to the north of the proposed location.
Commissioner Benton asked about FAA regulations regarding tower lighting?
Ms. Madson replied that if the tower was required to be lit by the FAA then the applicant would have to amend their Special Review approval. The county did not track or monitor the FAA regulations.
Commissioner Glick asked why they could not collocate on one of the other towers?
Ms. Madson replied that Planning Staff asked the applicant for coverage information. The CSU-Maxwell Ranch tower was capable of collocation but whether the same coverage would be achieved from that tower compared to the proposed tower was the point the applicant was trying to make.
Irene Cook, Closser Consulting, PO Box 423, Tabernash, CO, 80478, stated that her firm was a land use consulting firm and she was proud to be representing Verizon Wireless because she was always confident that she could count on their strict adherence to all the regulatory requirements, their thorough planning and development of each site, and she knew they would not take shortcuts. She thanked Ms. Madson and Scott Cornell of the Engineering Department for their help. She remarked that the area was a very important route between Fort Collins and Laramie. At times it could be a very treacherous road, and it was very important to have reliable cell service. The plan was to address the poor reception between Livermore and the state line in Larimer County. She stated that two new sites were planned; one in Virginia Dale and another south of Tie Siding over the state line where there was also an existing Union Wireless tower. There were existing sites for Verizon Wireless at Livermore and Red Feather Lakes but there were none along that stretch of Highway 287. She stated that a community meeting was scheduled in December regarding the project; however, there was a fatal car crash and they were unable to contact the people at the church to inform them of the information because they could get no cell service. She presented a map that showed areas with no cell phone coverage, existing coverage, and coverage that would be added with the proposed tower. She pointed out the highway entrance to the site and explained that they would follow an existing roadbed from the old Highway 287 to the site. The tower would be a lattice-type tower that would be metal and not painted. She showed photo simulations of what the area would look like with the tower in place. She noted that there were questions regarding the conditions of approval. The first dealt with Condition #8 and the road maintenance agreement between Verizon Wireless and the property owner which would provide for removal of the road at the end of the use. She stated that since the roadbed of the old Highway 287 was a preexisting use she wondered if that could be excluded from Verizon’s obligations. The other question was in regard to the requirement for a motion activated light in Condition #11. She stated that the site would be fenced yet there would be cows in the vicinity and was concerned that the cows could activate the light and asked that the requirement also be excluded. She stated that they had extensive contact with the neighbors and felt that the proposed tower was compatible with the existing and allowed uses. The two homes owned by the objectors were 1.5 miles from the site and there were no other feasible structures and no alternative sites for the antennas. The use was consistent with the Master Plan and compatible with the environment. The plans submitted were in compliance with the Land Use Code and the fire department had approved the access plan. She was confident that the construction, maintenance, and operations of the site would be of the highest quality. The use would not have an adverse impact on the property as there were no noises, dust, odors, etc. and there would be no permanent impact on the land.
Commissioner Cox asked what the coverage map looked like for other carriers? She questioned adding an additional tower when most systems had roaming capabilities.
Ms. Cook replied that she did not know.
David Born, Radio Frequency Engineer for Verizon Wireless, 17235 Opal Hill Drive, Parker, CO, explained that when there was roaming you would be roaming on another carrier that was compatible with your carrier. He stated that Sprint, Verizon, and Cricket used the same technology and T-Mobile and AT&T used a different technology so they could roam on each other. The closest tower he knew of was at the CSU site, and he did not know if there was a carrier on that site.
Commissioner Cox asked what the coverage would look like if Verizon did collocate on the existing towers. She also wondered if any of the other carriers were having issues with the coverage?
Mr. Born did not know about the other carriers’ coverage but felt that they probably all had trouble in that area. He showed what the coverage looked like currently. His worry with collocating at the CSU site was that they would still not achieve as much coverage as they wanted. They wanted to build as few sites as possible to save money but they did need to have some overlap so there could be hand off between them.
Commissioner Hess asked if Verizon had checked with the FAA regarding having a lit tower?
Ms. Closser explained that the FAA required any site over 200 feet to be lit or painted. If it was under 200 feet and not near an airport it did not have to be lit.
Commissioner Glick asked where technology was headed, and how long it would be before the towers would be taken down and replaced with a new technology.
Mr. Born replied that he did not see the towers going away. The issue with satellites was that in dense areas, they would not be able to handle the capacity and with all the new applications for cell phones the usage was going up.
Commissioner Glick asked if the onsite generator was insulated?
Ms. Closser replied yes. The only time the generator would run would be during ordinary routine maintenance. A technician would come to the site one to two times a month to make sure everything was running properly. The only other time it would operate was when the power went out. The generator would be enclosed in a separate room in the equipment building.
Commissioner Glick asked what protections were in place to prevent environmental hazards if fuel did spill on the site.
Ms. Closser explained that the generator would never be filled to capacity and the containment basin underneath the generator held approximately half as much as the fuel tank.
Commissioner Wallace asked what analysis was used to decide whether a cell tower was needed in a particular location?
Ms. Closser stated that the two main issues were capacity and coverage.
Mr. Born explained that when an existing site had too much traffic eventually people would get a fast or busy signal when trying to make a phone call. The coverage sites were some times based on customer complaints as well as statistics.
Commissioner Morgan asked if there were any other users that would be collocating on the tower?
Ms. Closser replied that no other users were pursuing use at the present time.
Commissioner Morgan asked what the likelihood was that someone else would collocate on the tower?
Ms. Closser stated that because of the land use regulations the tower had to have the ability to have one carrier per 40 feet of tower height. The tower would be engineered to allow for four carriers.
Commissioner Morgan asked if it could be a 40-foot tower with one user. He wondered why it needed to be a 160-foot tower?
Mr. Born explained that they wanted to be sure to have coverage through the canyon. He felt that there was a good chance that others would want to collocate because he thought that all the cell phone carriers had coverage issues on the highway.
Commissioner Morgan asked if there was capacity for collocation at the Tie Siding site?
Ms. Closser replied no because the existing tower was only 50 feet tall and did not meet the requirements for the coverage that they were trying to achieve in that area. The tower they were proposing in that area would be 125 feet because given the hilly topography it was much more effective to have the higher tower.
Commissioner Morgan asked when the proposed tower south of Tie Siding would be erected?
Ms. Closser believed it would occur in 2011.
Commissioner Morgan asked what the timing was for the proposed site?
Ms. Closser believed that it would be the summer of 2010.
Commissioner Morgan disclosed that he was a Verizon customer and thought that there were dead spots in coverage in that area. He felt that there should be a set time frame and more explanation regarding the proposed towers.
Ms. Madson explained that the motion-activated language was in the Land Use Code. The goal was to have the lights off when no one was there so if that occurred by an on/off switch that would be fine.
Traci Downs, Engineering Department, explained that the original intent of the abandonment of the road was not to have the entire roadbed removed from Highway 287. The intent was to amend the service of the road with some top soil and seed so if the tower was to go away and that road wasn’t needed it could be reseeded in a natural fashion. She felt that some flexible language could be added in the road maintenance agreement.
Commissioner Morgan suggested that the questions and issues regarding Conditions of Approval 9 and 11 be worked out between the county and applicant before the Board of County Commissioner hearing.
Commissioner Glick and Hart suggested having a manual light switch with a timer.
Commissioner Wallace stated that the viewshed would be greatly impacted by the proposed tower and have an adverse effect on the people that lived in Virginia Dale area. She felt that it was not a safety issue but a convenience issue. She did not think adding a cell phone tower at that location outweighed the impact that it would have on the environment in that area.
Commissioner Cox stated that she was disappointed to hear that they had not researched whether other carriers were having the same issues in the area. Also, there did not seem to be a lot of analysis regarding coverage and collocation with existing towers. She felt that before a 160-foot tower was erected she wanted to be more confident and hear more compelling arguments that what was existing really would not work. She agreed that a 160-foot tower would really effect the area and views.
Commissioner Weitkunat moved that the Planning Commission adopt the following Resolution:
BE IT RESOLVED that the Planning Commission recommend to the Board of County Commissioners that Verizon-Virginia Dale CMRS Special Review, file #09-Z1718, for the property described on “Exhibit A” to the minutes, be approved subject to the following conditions and subject changes to Condition 9 regarding the road maintenance agreement and the road bed and Condition 11 regarding the motion activated light:
1. This Special Review approval shall automatically expire without a public hearing if the use is not commenced within three years of the date of approval.
2. The Site shall be developed consistent with the approved plan and with the information contained in the Verizon-Virginia Dale CMRS Special Review File #08-Z1718 except as modified by the conditions of approval or agreement of the County and applicant. The applicant shall be subject to all other verbal or written representations and commitments of record for the Verizon-Virginia Dale CMRS Special Review.
3. Failure to comply with any conditions of the Special Review approval may result in reconsideration of the use and possible revocation of the approval by the Board of Commissioners
4. This application is approved without the requirement for a Development Agreement.
5. In the event the applicant fails to comply with any conditions of approval or otherwise fails to use the property consistent with the approved Special Review, applicant agrees that in addition to all other remedies available to County, County may withhold building permits, issue a written notice to applicant to appear and show cause why the Special Review approval should not be revoked, and/or bring a court action for enforcement of the terms of the Special Review. All remedies are cumulative and the County’s election to use one shall not preclude use of another. In the event County must retain legal counsel and/or pursue a court action to enforce the terms of this Special Review approval, applicant agrees to pay all expenses incurred by County including, but not limited to, reasonable attorney’s fees.
6. County may conduct periodic inspections to the property and reviews of the status of the Special Review as appropriate to monitor and enforce the terms of the Special Review approval.
7. The Findings and Resolution shall be a servitude running with the Property. Those owners of the Property or any portion of the Property who obtain title subsequent to the date of recording of the Findings and Resolution, their heirs, successors, assigns or transferees, and persons holding under applicants shall comply with the terms and conditions of the Special Review approval.
8. Prior to building permit application the applicant shall obtain a private road construction permit from the Engineering Department that includes a turn around area at the facility.
9. Prior to building permit application the applicant shall provide a copy of an executed road maintenance agreement or a copy of an executed lease for the site that addresses road construction, maintenance and removal.
10. The building permit for the proposed facility shall address the concerns raised by the Livermore Fire District regarding appropriate signage of flammable fuel for the on-site emergency generator.
11. The tower shall not be lit. The elevation drawings and note on the submitted plans regarding lighting of the tower shall be revised prior to building permit application. The light on the equipment building shall be designed, shielded, aimed, located and maintained to prevent glare and light trespass on abutting properties and the vicinity. In addition, this light shall be equipped with a motion activated and manual switch, so that it is turned on only when needed by maintenance personnel.
Commissioner Hess seconded the Motion.
Commissioners' Benton, Hess, Weitkunat, and Chairman Morgan voted in favor of the Motion.
Commissioners’ Cox, Glick, Hart, and Wallace voted against the Motion.
MOTION FAILED: 4-4
REPORT FROM STAFF: Mr. Lafferty reminded the Commission of their upcoming meetings.
ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, the hearing adjourned at 7:50 p.m.
These minutes constitute the Resolution of the Larimer County Planning Commission for the recommendations contained herein which are hereby certified to the Larimer County Board of Commissioners.
Roger Morgan, Chairman Karen Weitkunat, Secretary
BEING A LEASE AREA WITHIN A PORTION OF, THE NORTHEAST 1/4 OF SECTION 15, TOWNSHIP 11 NORTH, RANGE 71 WEST OF THE 6TH PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN, IN THE STATE OF COLORADO, COUNTY OF LARIMER, BEING MORE PARTICULARLY DESCRIBED AS FOLLOWS: COMMENCING AT NATIONAL GEODETIC SURVEY (NGS) CONTROL MONUMENT KNOWN AS M137, SAID CONTROL MONUMENT HAVING COLORADO STATE PLANE (NORTH ZONE) COORDINATES OF NORTHING 1578146.45 AND EASTING 3047894.16, AS PUBLISHED BY THE NGS; THENCE ON A GRID BEARING OF N40 15'31"W, .A GRID DISTANCE OF 4545.78 FEET TO THE POINT OF BEGINNING, FROM WHICH A GRID TIE TO NGS CONTROL MONUMENT "P 137 RESET" HAVING COLORADO STATE PLANE (NORTH ZONE) COORDINATES OF NORTHING 1590185.32 AND EASTING 3041578.44, AS 'PUBLISHED BY NGS, A GRID BEARING OF N21 09'32'LV, A GRID DISTANCE OF 9092.33 FEET; THENCE N00 06'06"W, 60.00 FT THENCE N89 52'53" E 148.17 FEET TO A POINT HEREINAFTER REFERRED TO AS POINT A; THENCE CONTINUING N89 52”153"E, 11.83 FEET; THENCE S00 06'06’ E, 30.00 FEET TO A POINT HEREINAFTER REFERRED TO AS POINT "B"; THENCE CONTINUING S00 06'06"E, 30.00 FEET; THENCE S89 52'53"W1 60.00 FEl3 TO THE POINT OF BEGINNING. CONTAINING 3600 SQ. FT. OR 0.082 ACRES MORE OR LESS
BEING TWO STRIPS OF LAND 5.00 FEET IN WIDTH WITHIN A PORTION OF THE NORTHEAST 1/4 OF SECTION 15, TOWNSHIP 11 NORTH, RANGE 71 WEST OF M E 6TH PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN, IN THE STATE OF COLORADO, COUNTY OF LARIMER, LYING 2.50 FEET ON EACH SIDE OF THE FOLLOWING DESCRIBED CENTERLINE:
BEGINNING AT POINT "A" AS DESCRIBED ABOVE; THENCE N57'17'26"EI 225.39 FEET TO THE END OF SAID STRIP OF LAND, BEGINNING AT POINT "A" AS DESCRIBED ABOVE; THENCE N86'05'31"WI 719.30 FEET TO THE END OF SAID STRIP OF LAND.
BEING A STRIP OF LAND 35.00 FEET IN WIDTH WITHIN A PORTION OF THE NORTHEAST ¼ OF SECTION 15, TOWNSHIP 11 NORTH, RANGE 71 WEST OF THE 6TH PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN, IN THE STATE OF COLORADO; COUNTY OF LARIMER, LYING 17.50 FEET ON EACH SIDE OF THE FOLLOWING DESCRIBED CENTERLINE:
BEGINNING AT POINT "8" AS DESCRIBED ABOVE; THENCE N8 52'53"E1130.05 FEET TO THE BEGINNING OF A TANGENT CURVE CONCAVE SOUTHWESTERLY HAVING A RADIUS OF 200.00 FEET THENCE SOUTHEASTERLY ALONG SAID TANGENT CURVE THROUGH A CENTRAL ANGLE OF 92 43'13', AN ARC LENGTH OF 323.66 FEET; THENCE S02 36'07W, 261.93 FEET; THENCE S15 00'30"E1 56.95 FEET; THENCE S42 32'44"E 449.19 FEET; THENCE S30 43'13"E, 111.56 FEET; THENCE S 54 03’21”E, 106.76 FEET; THENCE SW38'05"E, 237.74 FEET; THENCE S44 39'37"E, 350.93 THENCE S11 23'44"W, 19.87 FEET; THENCE S50 25'00"W 14.05 FEET TO ME END OF SAID STRIP OF LAND. SIDELINES OF SAID STRIPS OF LAND ARE TO BE LENGTHENED AND/OR SHORTENED TO PREVENT GAPS AND/OR OVERLAPS.