‘Stealth tower’ plan aims to appease Afton residentsWashington County is waiting on Afton before the new emergency communications system can go live.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
An emergency communications tower disguised as a pine tree is a step closer to becoming a reality in Afton.
At the city’s April 15 council meeting, Steve Pott of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department told the city council the county was negotiating terms with a landowner on a piece of land on which to place a stealth tower.
The mast will be one of 14 such towers across Washington County which will form a new public safety communications system when complete.
Pott added the county had abandoned its initial plan to place a 190 foot monopole in Afton, as the idea had met with such opposition from residents, but would be proceeding with an application for a 75 foot stealth tower, designed to resemble one of the pine trees surrounding its location. The land in question is at 15326 Afton Hills Court South.
City council members agreed to waivers on several requirements which are part of the county’s application to the planning commission, in a bid to speed up the process.
In a written submission, Pott explained, “The work at the other 13 sites throughout the county is either substantially complete, or under contract to be completed in the next 90 days.
“The county has been required to postpone commissioning of the entire county-wide system until a site is identified and constructed in Afton.”
He added that the area's coverage would be diminished as a result of the reduced height of the stealth tower, but the county had taken a business decision based on the level of opposition in Afton.
“As I’ve mentioned right from the start, higher is better,” said Pott. “But at some point, it really got down to a business decision.
“If we were going to have any coverage in Afton, we would have to do something.”
An application has already been submitted to the council for the mast, which will be considered at the planning commission’s May 5 meeting, and, if approved, will then be sent to the city council for its May 20 meeting.