Debate continues over the visual intrusion of a proposed AT&T cell tower on a river bluff south of St. Croix Falls. The tower, which was approved by the Chisago County Board in January, is now the subject of a lawsuit.
Meanwhile, one area community is taking steps to ensure it has clear guidelines on the books to protect the river and the community’s scenery in the event of future tower proposals. A story by Mary Divine in the St. Paul Pioneer Press has the details:
A group called Concerned River Valley Citizens and 10 nearby property owners have taken legal action against Chisago County and AT&T to stop the construction of a 150-foot tower on private land in Franconia Township, near Taylors Falls, Minn.
Meanwhile, the city of Scandia is taking action to strengthen its restrictions on locations of cellphone towers.
Under Scandia’s proposed plan, towers would be limited to 75 feet and would have to be of a “stealth” design in sensitive locations such as within a quarter-mile of Minnesota 95, a state-designated scenic byway. A public hearing on the proposed changes will be June 7.
For the most part, towers are not allowed within the boundaries of the National St. Croix Wild and Scenic Riverway, which is about one-fourth of a mile on either side of the river.
The tower in Franconia Township is to be built about a mile from the river, on private property southeast of the intersection of U.S. 8 and Minnesota 95. The Chisago County board approved the plan in January, despite objections from conservationists who say the tower is too high and obtrusive for an area so close to the St. Croix River.
Concerned River Valley Citizens and the private residents took legal action in March, claiming the county had improperly issued a conditional-use permit for the tower. The Minnesota Court of Appeals is hearing the matter because it involves an appeal of a county board decision.
“The county decision was arbitrary, unreasonable, under an erroneous theory of and without evidence to support it,” according to the petition filed with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
An attorney for the citizens group and the residents, Karen Kurth, said Thursday that the group isn’t necessarily opposed to the construction of a cellphone tower. “What they would like to see is a stealth design, so that it blends into the surrounding environment and doesn’t negatively affect the scenic value of the river valley,” she said.