Extensive Visual Impacts to Neighborhoods and Open Space
Boulder County is reviewing an application for an 89-109* foot tall telecommunications tower above Boulder. The cell tower company asked the County for a temporary hold after neighbors uncovered numerous misrepresentations and defects in their application. Our community needs to stand ready to carefully scrutinize their next submission.
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Visible Across Boulder
The tower, which may require lighting from the FAA, will be visible from numerous public areas including Chautauqua Park, StarHouse, Betasso Park, Bald Mountain Scenic Area, Sunshine Canyon, and numerous designated View Protection Corridors. Is this what we want for Boulder County?
Visible from Countless Cherished Public Spaces
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Boulder County heard the community’s concerns about Atlas Tower’s downplay of visual impacts in its application. The County responded by creating its own viewshed maps to educate the public about the true visual impacts of Atlas Tower’s plan. These maps make clear that the cell tower will blight views from foothills communities, impacting hundreds of homes, in addition to numerous iconic trails and open spaces. Compare Boulder County’s Viewshed Analyses with Atlas Tower’s quotes in its application about visual impact. Atlas Tower’s repeated claim that their cell tower would be “tucked” behind the water tank that is only 30’ tall is a clear attempt to mislead the County and the public.
On the County’s maps look for the gold color, depicting “Structure Visible,” overlaid onto the green colored Open Space and other preserved areas — the impact is vast. Something else to keep in mind is that these analyses depict view impacts of a cell tower at 85’ and 105’, respectively, but the structure will actually reach 89’ to 109’ according to the applicant’s elevation drawing (at page Z3) because the 4’ lightning rod is housed within the branches of a fake tree structure.
Once approved, the Applicant can increase the height by 20’ with no further opportunity for public comment, which is why the County also gave us the viewshed analysis for a 105’ tower (which will actually be 109’). Even at 85’ the cell tower is more than twice as tall as surrounding trees and will be situated on the highest point on a ridge, which makes its impact on foothills views so damaging.
FAA Lighting Simulations**
Got simulation skizzles? We’d love to see your lighting simulations. Contact us!
**FAA may require 24/7 red flashing lights, regardless of what is approved now.
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A fire at this location would block one of only two emergency evacuation routes for hundreds of residents. Safer sites exist but Atlas Tower failed to explore them as the County Regs require.
Fire is the biggest threat Boulder residents face. A single landowner and its contractor shouldn’t be allowed to profit at the expense of increasing fire risk to Front Range communities.
Visual Impact, FAA Lighting?
The tower, which may require a 24/7 red flashing light by the FAA, will be visible from numerous public areas including Chautauqua Park, StarHouse, Betasso Preserve, Bald Mountain Scenic Area, Flagstaff Mountain and Sunshine Canyon.
Atlas Tower did not submit a coverage map with its proposal. This does not appear accidental. An expert's analysis* shows that most Pine Brook Hills residents won't even benefit from this tower, and the benefits for the broader community are unproven. Atlas failed to explore viable alternative sites, as County Regs require. The expert's analysis shows that other sites would provide more effective coverage.
The proposed tower lies within or near the County’s “Overland Habitat Connectors” as cited in its Comprehensive Plan (p 153). What impact will it have on wildlife including pollinators & birds?
Health & Safety Risks
Did you know the FCC & Congress have prevented local zoning boards from using health and safety concerns to deny cell towers? But that shouldn't prevent you from acting... there is a growing body of evidence of the dangers, from cancers in humans and animals, to devastating effects on pollinators.
Boulder County has good zoning. Special exceptions, when approved, can weaken zoning and make more towers likely. This application is in conflict with the County Comprehensive Plan.
The proposed site is too close to homes and families oppose it in large numbers. The proposal has caused considerable dismay locally. Concerns include loss of community character, visual and noise pollution, health issues, loss of property values, and lack of a transparent, community-based process.
The FAA may require 24/7 red flashing lights, despite Atlas Tower's claim that no lighting is required. And the cell tower company can increase the tower height an extra 20' with no additional public input. Boulder County would be powerless to stop either a height extension or FAA lighting per federal regs.
See: 47 CFR Sec.1.6100(b)(7)(i), (c)(1), available here: Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR).
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County Meets with Citizens
Planning Department leaders held a video conference with citizens as requested in the March 5 community letter. They listened to concerns about Atlas Tower's misconduct and the many risks to the community. The County agreed to re-notify the community when Atlas Tower submits further information.
Application Put on Hold
Atlas Tower requested that Boulder County place its cell tower application on hold to enable it to address the numerous deficiencies and misrepresentations uncovered in its application. This is an important first victory for the community but the struggle is far from over. The County estimates that only 106 days will remain on the FCC’s “shot clock” once the hold is lifted. This means that the County will have to reach a decision within that time frame or risk automatic approval of the cell tower by the FCC. Please don’t wait for the hold to be lifted.
Safety Issues Raised
Boulder Mountain Fire Protection District tells County "[Atlas Tower] has failed to address safety issues such as, but not limited to, increased risk of wildfire and interference with evacuation procedures."
Neighbors Send Letter to Atlas Tower Owners - Boulder Residents Randi & Nathan Foster - No Response
"We write to appeal to you as our neighbors . . . . We believe that a fair conclusion to be drawn from what we now know about this project is that it was pursued without sufficient consideration of vital information." Atlas Tower and its owners provided no response.
Landowner and Atlas Tower Hold Community Meeting - Promises Unmet
Landowner apologized to neighbors claiming to be unaware of relative height differences between the water tank and trees compared to the cell tower. Atlas Tower's lawyer refuted that Landowner was unaware of height differences and promised to provide numerous items of additional information to neighbors but failed to deliver.
Public Health Water Quality Sends Referral
Boulder's various departments have begun signing off on the project.
Referred to Other County Agencies
Boulder County sent the application to departments for their review and recommendations. These include Parks, Wildfire, Transportation, Building Division, DRSM, and Public Health Water Quality.
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