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Cass County Board: Township requests cell tower moratorium

Woodrow Township Board Chair Myles Wagner asked the Cass County Board to call a moratorium on new cellphone towers in the county during Tuesday's commissioners' meeting. The county commissioners did not call a moratorium. Metro Creative Graphics, Inc.

WALKER—Woodrow Township Board Chair Myles Wagner asked the Cass County Board to call a moratorium on new cellphone towers in the county during Tuesday's commissioners' meeting.

The county commissioners did not call a moratorium.

They did request the planning commission review and recommend any changes needed to the county land use ordinance section on telecommunications towers.

If the commission does recommend changes, a public hearing before the commission and a second public hearing before the county board would be before the changes are enacted.

Wagner brought the issue to the county board, because Nov. 9, 2017, the town board approved a resolution stating the town board opposes locating towers within residential areas or within the one-quarter mile from waterways in a shoreland district for county zoning.

The county has a countywide land use ordinance with stricter development criteria for development within the one-quarter mile shoreland areas.

The township resolution also states "co-locations for more than one service provider should be required and not just be 'made available' at the time of tower construction."

The resolution also states towers should be located along major transportation routes. It called for a county review of its ordinance.

Subsequent to the township adopting its resolution, the county accepted a new application for a conditional use permit in January for a new tower in Woodrow Township on a riparian lot on Child Lake and bordering a gravel town road.

The applicants appeared before the county planning commission in February and are scheduled to continue the hearing on their conditional use application at the March planning commission meeting.

Since the application already is in process, Administrator Joshua Stevenson said Tuesday, that tower application will fall under the existing ordinance language.

Dick Botorff, who is a neighbor to the proposed tower site and lives on adjacent McKeown Lake, told the county board he, too, objects to the proliferation of new, single-use towers.

He contested the claim that the proposed 190-foot tower will not be visible from the road or nearby lakes. He said the treetops in the area are only 55 feet tall.

Fred Hage said he drove out to the site where the tower is proposed and said he does not believe the tower would be visible from the road or adjacent lakes.

"Just do the math for distance and angles," Botorff responded.

"There is just too much leeway for interpretation in the existing ordinance," he added.

Kathy Wagner, who said she lives in Wabedo Township to the east of Woodrow, expressed her concern that having towers in riparian areas could lead to future degradation of waters.

The planning commission reviews the existing ordinance language on towers before a public hearing would be scheduled on any proposed changes.

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