Scaled-back cellphone tower in Animas Valley gets approval

La Plata County commissioners unanimously OK 104-foot structure

La Plata County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a 104-foot cellphone tower in the Animas Valley. Enlarge photo

Durango Herald file

La Plata County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a 104-foot cellphone tower in the Animas Valley.

La Plata County Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a controversial cellphone tower in the Animas Valley, attaching conditions aimed at addressing residents’ concerns about impacts to views in the valley.

The tower, proposed last June to improve AT&T’s coverage, has drawn criticism from nearby residents who say the structure would create a blight on the idyllic landscape, and negatively affect property values.

The tower would be at 619 Trimble Lane, within the Sandco gravel pit property.

In response to resident concerns, the developer, Skyway Towers LLC, reduced the height of the tower from 124 feet to 104 feet, a compromise the company said would reduce the tower’s coverage area.

On Tuesday, about 15 residents spoke to La Plata County commissioners in a public hearing, reiterating many of those concerns and asking the board to reject the proposed tower.

Commissioners approved the tower, which meets county and federal regulations, on the basis the developer not exceed 104 feet in height. The board also gave the county’s planning director authority to determine whether visual mitigation is adequate.

“This was added to encourage a more robust consideration of camouflaging options, and the applicant agreed to do mock-ups of various paint colors and stealth options to present to planning/neighbors for input,” said La Plata County spokeswoman Megan Graham.

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