Minutes of Board of Adjustment’s Hearing held on November 15, 2011.
I. Call to Order. Meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. Board members present were Ann Sullivan, Dennis Staudt, Bill Fluhrer and Angela Ruzicka. Also present was Jeff Sherman, Zoning Administrator. Roll call of Board members was taken and four (4) of the five (5) members were present with Board Member John Gohr being absent.
II. Approval of Agenda. A motion to approve the agenda as presented was made by Dennis Staudt and seconded by Bill Fluhrer, motion was unanimously approved.
III. Approval of Minutes. A motion to approve the minutes from the August 16, 2011, meeting was made by Bill Fluhrer and seconded by Dennis Staudt, motion was unanimously approved.
IV. Old Business. No old business.
V. New Business.
A. A conditional use request by US Cellular to have a 190 foot monopole telecommunication tower on property that is owned by Glen & Doris Wyborny and Michael & Shelley Wyborny and which is located off of Glass Avenue in the NW¼ of Section 18, Township 96 North, Range 17 West of the 5th P.M., Rudd Township. US Cellular representatives Julie Shebek and Shaun Hemsted and property owner Michael Wyborny were present for the hearing. Also present for the hearing were adjacent property owners Jeff and Carla White. Chair Ann Sullivan stated that she had stock with Omnitel and due to the placement of the tower she felt she had a conflict of interest and would abstain from voting. Julie Shebek began her presentation by stating that she does site acquisition work for US Cellular and she introduced Shaun Hemsted who is the project manager for this specific site. Ms. Shebek stated that US Cellular is requesting approval to construct a 190 foot monopole tower and she presented a photo simulation to give the Board a visual aide as to the type of tower they would be constructing, as there are 3 different types of towers and she wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page with the type of tower they would be utilizing. Ms. Shebek stated that they plan to lease a 100’x100’ piece of land from the Wyborny family and they plan to put in a driveway entrance off of Glass Avenue, which they have already received approval for from the County Engineer. They also plan to put in an access driveway leading back to their fenced compound area for their tower and shelter and Ms. Shebek identified the proposed location of the tower on a map for the Board. Ms. Shebek stated that US Cellular is looking to improve their coverage as they have customers in that area who experience many dropped calls and she presented a service coverage map to the Board showing them US Cellular’s current coverage in the County. Chair Sullivan inquired as to whether the structure would be erected out of the floodplain per the Staff Report prepared by Assistant Day. Ms. Shebek confirmed that the structure would be erected out of the floodplain per the County’s recommendation. Mr. Hemsted added that they are in the process of obtaining a floodplain certification as part of their leased area is within the floodplain zone, so even if their structure is not in the floodplain the FCC requires this certification if any portion of their leased area is located in the floodplain and they are going to elevate the site 1 to 2’ to bring the compound up, as well as elevate the structure as they do not want their equipment damaged either. Mr. Hemsted also stated that they have to undergo an environmental assessment before they can begin construction and they are in the process of completing that as well, which should be finalized in early March.
The hearing was opened up to the public for support or opposition. Adjacent property owner Jeff White addressed the Board by stating he owns the property on the corner of Glass Avenue and he stated he would like to see the proposed location of this tower be relocated to a different site as there is plenty of land all up and down that road that would be suitable for a tower. Mr. White stated that the property he owns is his residence, which unfortunately burned down, but he does plan to rebuild this spring and he feels there is a whole corn field to put the tower in and he wants to know why it is going to be so close to his residence. Board Member Bill Fluhrer inquired as to how far the proposed location was from his property and it was determined to be about 150-200’ from his property line. Board Member Dennis Staudt asked Mr. White to identify the location of his house. Ms. Shebek stated that they worked with the Wyborny family in finding a location that was less intrusive in terms of disturbing their farm land and that they are in compliance with the setbacks for the towers in regards to the County Zoning Ordinance. Ms. Shebek stated that the tower is 50’ from the property line and even further from the house and that the tower is designed to collapse on itself if something catastrophic happens and it were to fall. Ms. Shebek added that FAA requires everything 200’ or higher to have lights and this tower is not quite 200’ so it will not have any lights which would be another thing that would be less intrusive on that area. Board Member Fluhrer inquired as to what would happen if it did fall on the surrounding property owner’s property. Mr. Hemsted stated that US Cellular carries $5 million dollars in insurance. Mr. White stated that he has 6 children and 12 grandchildren and for that argument of liability he doesn’t care if you have $5 million or $10 million. Mr. White also stated that he believes the property that Wyborny owns is extremely large and that they may even own a house 1 mile or so down the road and the tower can be placed there or anywhere along Rudd Park Road even if it was moved 1,000 feet down the road it would be more accessible and it would not interfere with their farming operation any more than this site would. Mr. Hemsted stated that they actually designed this site to have minimal amounts of cumbrance and they had multiple conversations about this and that this is the area that their engineers have identified. Board Member Fluhrer inquired as to whether cell towers had the same setback as wind towers and Administrator Sherman stated that the zoning ordinance has nothing specific for cell towers and that we would look at the setbacks for other towers, which is the height of the tower. Board Member Fluhrer inquired as to whether that setback was just from the residence and not from the property line itself and Administrator Sherman agreed that was correct. Mr. Hemsted stated that they are specifically designing this tower with a break point at the 50% height of the tower so it is designed so that the bottom piece stays in place and that in the event the tower did fall, only the top 50% of the tower would fall and it would fall on their leased area. Mr. White stated that if this was such an important location for this tower then he would certainly be willing to sell his property for a very reasonable price to the Wybornys. Mr. White stated that he is very firm in his opposition to this tower as he doesn’t want to rebuild a new house with an additional visual cumbrance. Board Member Fluhrer inquired as to how far away Mr. White would like to see it built and Mr. White stated 1,000 feet and he added that there is a whole stretch of road going down Rudd Park to the Avenue of the Saints and a whole stretch of road on Glass Avenue going North to Osage and he believes 1,000 feet would not be unreasonable.
Board Member Ruzicka inquired as to whether the Iowa Coalition visited the site and made any recommendations. It was determined that this is not a requirement and Mr. Hemsted stated that the Coalition does not understand radio frequency transmissions and that is why US Cellular has engineers and programs that model properties for height and this general area was the ideal selection. If you moved it 1,000 feet North you would loose your targeted coverage area which is the City of Rudd and other property owners along Rudd Park Road were talked to and no agreements could be made. Mr. Hemsted stated that the Wybornys were the ones that were the most interested and they were willing to work with us and that is why they are presenting this proposed location today. Board Member Ruzicka stated that she appreciated that but the Iowa Coalition serves a different purpose which is to look at whether the site was good or not in proximity to housing. Mr. Hemsted inquired as to how the Coalition would know what a good site was for US Cellular. Board Member Ruzicka stated that they would look at visual, disturbance, wind, shadows, etc. Mr. Hemsted stated they have to do an architectural and archeological view shed study, which accomplishes this.
Mr. White added that the area is a flat land and he does not have a thorough understanding of radio frequencies but he doesn’t see cell towers located every 1,000 feet, they are miles apart, so placing this 1,000 feet down the road, he doesn’t see the impact in that. Ms. Shebek added that if you shift it 1,000 feet then that is 1,000 feet on the other end that is not getting coverage and you are seeing more and more towers come up in smaller town settings. In metropolitan areas you can afford to get the taller towers because you can place the towers to stretch further. What US Cellular is trying to do is come in and say they found a need for their customers in this area and for people traveling through Rudd on the highway and that is the goal for this area. Ms. Shebek stated that 1,000 feet does not sound like much but in the radio frequency world it is. This is an area that she researched and a lot of the properties were in Trusts or Estates or the owners lived out of State, etc. A lot of things need to go together to make it happen. Board Member Fluhrer asked the US Cellular representative to re-identify the proposed location of the tower. Board Member Fluhrer pointed out an alternative location he thought would be less cumbersome and Mr. Hemsted stated that US Cellular approaches them and gives them the location options to choose from. They don’t choose the locations, US Cellular does. Mr. Hemsted stated that the location pointed out by Board Member Fluhrer might not be a possibility because it floods there every spring. Board Member Fluhrer added that they could always elevate like they are doing here. Administrator Sherman stated that the culver may be more of a factor in that location.
A motion to approve the conditional use request by US Cellular to have a 190 foot monopole telecommunication tower on property that is owned by Glen & Doris Wyborny and Michael & Shelley Wyborny and which is located off of Glass Avenue in the NW¼ of Section 18, Township 96 North, Range 17 West of the 5th P.M., Rudd Township, contingent upon the environmental study being finalized, was made by Angela Ruzicka and was seconded by Dennis Staudt. Roll call vote was taken and two Board members voted in favor with one Board member voting against. Since there was not three (3) concurring votes of the members, the application was denied.
VI. Adjourn. Motion to close the hearing was made by Angela Ruzicka and was seconded by Dennis Staudt.
Jeff D. Sherman