County approves towers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 1999

Communications towers won and gravel pits lost at Tuesday night’s Mower County Planning Commission meeting.

Thursday, September 30, 1999

Communications towers won and gravel pits lost at Tuesday night’s Mower County Planning Commission meeting.

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Three conditional use permit applications for communications towers received the commission’s recommendations for approval.

Two CUP renewal applications for gravel pits were tabled.

The Mower County Board of Commissioners will hold public hearings on the three communications tower CUP applications, beginning at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Unisite, Inc. of Tampa, Fla. plans to construct two 250-foot guyed towers for cellular communications in Windom and Pleasant Valley townships.

According to a Unisite, Inc. representative, it is part of the Florida company’s plans for a network of communications towers from South Dakota to Wisconsin along Interstate 90.

Ralph and Janice Wilson are the land owners for the Windom Township tower. Walter Kuhlman is the land owner for the tower to be constructed in Pleasant Valley Township.

In each case, Unisite, Inc. plans to make space available on the towers for leasing, according to Sean Rice, who is in charge of land acquisition for the Florida firm.

The same conditions were applied to each CUP.

Midwest Wireless Communications of Woodbury also received the commission’s endorsement for another 250-foot guyed tower for cellular communications.

The firm is acquiring five acres of land from Stan and Sharon Bergan in LeRoy Township for the tower.

Not so fortunate were two petitioners who sought renewal of CUPs for gravel pits.

David Hjelmen sought renewal of his CUP in Lansing Township to use 40 acres for a gravel pit.

Hjelmen was unsuccessful in three straight bids for a CUP in 1987, 1988 and 1989. He finally obtained his CUP on the fourth try in 1992, when the Mower County Board of Commissioners interceded to grant him a permit.

Harold and Kathy Paine, who live near the site, registered their opposition Tuesday night to Hjelmen’s renewal application. The couple cited concerns about traffic, noise and dust. The Paines also protested at Hjelmen’s original bids for a CUP.

However, Hjelmen’s attempt for a renewal of the permit was thwarted Tuesday night, because the commission members wanted more information.

One of the conditions on the original CUP requires site plans by a licensed land surveyor and Hjelmen couldn’t provide them Tuesday night.

Glen W. Jacobsen, deputy chief prosecutor for Mower County and legal counsel to the planning commission, said the commission was justified in tabling action until the necessary information is provided.

The two petitioners will be able to supply the information in time for the commission’s October meeting or, if necessary, the November meeting.

Hjelmen’s application expires Dec. 31, 2000 and Bustad’s expires Dec. 31 this year.

The Hjelmen and Bustad gravel pits are both located in Section 15 of Lansing Township.

Also Tuesday night, Wallace Bustad had a similar application for a gravel pit CUP renewal delayed and for the same reason.

Jacobsen also introduced to the commission members samples of criteria for granting CUPs and the forms to be completed by commission members before deciding to recommend approval or denial of an application.

When a CUP application is received by the county planning and zoning department, the investigation committee of the commission visits the location of the operation and then reports to the commission its findings.

Jacobsen said the criteria and forms will "establish a factual basis for the action taken by the commission" and David Hillier, 3rd District Mower County Commissioner and chair of the planning commission, agreed. Hillier said the criteria and accompanying form will provide a "paper trail" for the commission’s action.

The commission did not formally adopt the new step in the CUP process and, instead, took Jacobsen’s recommendation under advisement.