By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — People living west of Colfax may notice improved cellular telephone service next year.
The Dunn County Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a special exception permit for AT&T to construct a 250-foot multi-tenant cell tower in the Town of Tainter following a public hearing February 19.
The cell tower will be located on the south side of county Highway D about halfway between the Hay River bridge at Picnic Point and the intersection of Highways G and D.
Shane Begley, an agent for AT&T, told the Board of Adjustment that AT&T has entered into a long-term lease with Bruce and Ruth Retzloff for a 100-foot by 100-foot area.
The self-supporting collapsible lattice tower will be designed to fall in thirds if something should happen to bring it down and is designed to fall within 33 percent of its height, Begley explained.
Juliet Fox, chair of the Board of Adjustment, wondered why AT&T was not pursuing co-location on another tower rather than building a new tower.
One tower is available on east side of Tainter Lake, but it is a little over two miles away and is outside of the distance AT&T determined was needed for the service area, Begley said.
The new 250-foot tower will replace an old wooden pole site nearby and will connect well with existing and future cell tower sites, he said.
AT&T is asking for a 250-foot tower to eliminate gaps in coverage, he said.
The company has plans to develop 12 additional cell towers in Dunn County at some point in the future, Begley said.
Although Begley had initially approached the Tainter Town Board about land owned by the township, Tainter Town Board members said they were not interested and that Begley should approach private landowners.
Fox wondered if the cell tower could be expected to improve cellular service in that area, and Begley replied, “Yes.”
The new tower is expected to be completed by the end of next year, he said.
The cell tower will be located in a wooded area and will be surrounded by a six-foot chain link fence topped by three strands of barbed wire, Begley said.
BOA member Diane Morehouse said that one of her concerns was the “endless proliferation of towers” but acknowledged the validity of providing better service.
BOA member Dorothy Enger of Colfax noted that the new tower would provide a location for other services to co-locate and would eliminate those as additional cell towers in Dunn County.
The Dunn County Board of Adjustment voted unanimously to approve the special exception permit.
In addition to Fox, Enger and Morehouse, Tom Walsh and Phil Steans serve on the Board of Adjustment.
Steans, an attorney from Menomonie, recused himself from participating in the public hearing and making a decision on the cellular tower.