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Towering issues still plague council

Stealth towers, monopines, monopoles, telecommunication towers -- call them what you will in Afton, just don't call them gone.

At the May 19 meeting of the Afton City Council, the council approved amendments to the telecommunication tower ordinance designating where and what kind of towers can be erected in Afton since the tower moratorium is set to expire in June.

"I understand that the goal is that we would like to have as few towers as possible in the city limits of Afton," city planner Chuck Marohn said.

The new towers ordinance will only allow new telecommunication towers to be constructed in the Industrial Zone, and any proposed towers outside of the Industrial Zone must be co-located on existing structures. Monopoles are the only allowable form of new tower.

The topic of towers has been a towering issue in Afton ever since the infamous "stealth tower" took root on Afton Hills Court.

Even though the Washington County tower has already been constructed and gone live, residents of Afton Hills Court are continually frustrated with its presence.

Afton Hills Court resident Susan Sando has spoken to the council several times about her and her neighbors' displeasure with the tower. Sando informed the council that four residents who are directly in view of the tower are currently selling their homes.

Council member Randy Nelson raised the question of whether or not the new ordinance will include a clause for public safety concerns since the stealth tower is part of the county's 800 megahertz radio system, which is supposed to substantially improve public safety communications.

"We have to provide public safety," he said. "That is the only reason that tower is there."

After much discussion it was agreed upon that if a public safety issue should arise it can be addressed with this ordinance because federal officials have certain overrides.

In addition to eliminating towers in residential and commercial areas, the new ordinance also eliminates any reference to "stealth" since it caused too much confusion the first time around.

Nelson questioned this also since he felt that having a "stealthy" tower rather than a monopole would be more aesthetically pleasing.

"I'd rather see stealth rather than a monopole anywhere," he said. "That tower is not very recognizable; people have come up to me and asked 'Where's that tower? I want to see it' and they couldn't find it."

Marohn told the council that the issue of stealth can be addressed when it arises since the council can put conditions on towers and can designate if they should be stealth or not.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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