Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Verizon drops proposed cell tower in ML


November 22, 2018

A plan from Verizon to bring a cellular phone tower or small cell towers to Moose Lake has been dropped, reported Rick Adams, an independent telecommunications consultant for Verizon, to the Moose Lake City Council at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

“They told me that they were going to pull out of the project and that I needed to turn in my time so that I could be paid,” Adams added.

He explained that the city did not have an ordinance about the zoning of wireless communications towers and facilities, and a proposed ordinance that was brought to the city by the city’s attorney should not be adopted, in his opinion.

The ordinance would have set guidelines for communication towers within the city limits about the height of the towers, location and so forth.

“When you work with a big company like Verizon, there are a lot of people involved,” said Adams. “When they found out that there was no ordinance, some people from Verizon wanted to sue the city to get a permit. Others said it was better to work with the city rather than ram it down its throat.

“My recommendation was to work with the city and to work on an ordinance.

“Normally, a working group is assigned to put the ordinance together. That didn’t happen in this case. The ordinance came from the city attorney.”

Adams went on to give a detailed list of the portions of the proposed ordinance where conflicts were found. In one portion of the ordinance, it said that no more than three antennas would be allowed, and later in the ordinance, it said there could be four carriers on a tower. There were also conflicts with the way that it tied in with the right-of-way ordinance, he said.

“I took a day and made a lot of comments about where there were flaws in your proposed ordinance,” Adams said. “You would be better off staying where you are at. If you adopted this ordinance, it would be very hard for a carrier to come in and comply with this ordinance. It would have the effect of supplying sub-standard wireless service to the city. Eventually, the residents and businesses would notice that you have sub-standard service. It would take time to fix it. You would be two years away from getting a site built.”

Councilor Doug Juntunen pointed out that the whole situation was not handled well.

City Administrator Tim Peterson said the city’s attorney took information for the ordinance from ordinances for other cities that belonged to the League of Minnesota Cities.

The council tabled action on the ordinance and will send it back to the city attorney and the planning commission. Adams offered his help to write the ordinance.

A proposed right-of-way ordinance was also tabled.

The council said no by consensus to the proposal to install another air fiber antenna on the water tower. Mayor Ted Shaw said there was already one air fiber antenna on the water tower.

Peterson spoke about the high assessments that would have to be charged if water lines were installed on Knollwood Drive.

“The assessments to property owners would be $48,000,” he said. “That’s ridiculous. I think that we would have a hard time justifying numbers that high.”

Peterson explained that the high assessment included installing a water line and replacing the sewer line.

“Do we want to look at just boring a water line in there?” he asked. “It would be a lot cheaper. People would have access to city water. But the sewer line is 50 or 60 years old.”

Peterson said he asked that a report from the city engineer would be brought to the city council meeting.

The engineer discovered problems in three valves on the water system. It was asked if those valves are needed when the city is preparing for a new well system.

Peterson also spoke about the grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation in the amount of $610,000 for the construction of a trail from the bridge over the Moose Horn River on the south end of town along Highway 73 and County Road 10 to the new school.

He said that an application will be submitted for funding from Safe Routes to School and from other partners to fund the project. If approved, construction will be completed in 2021.

Tia Grutkoski, president of the Moose Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, reported to the council that the gold medal USA Olympic Curling Team will be coming to Willow River and Moose Lake on Wednesday, Dec. 12, to do a presentation on goal setting and reaching those goals.

The four-member team will be doing the presentation at the Willow River School at 1:30 p.m., and at the Moose Lake School auditorium at 2:30 p.m. A meet and greet and photo session will follow the presentation at 4 p.m., she said.

She stated that the cost of bringing the team to Willow River and Moose Lake will be covered by the Moose Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, the Moose Lake Kiwanis Club, the Willow River Commercial Club (needs to be approved yet), and she asked for a donation of $750 from the city.

A motion was passed to grant the request.

The council also approved a donation of $250 for Shop with a Cop, a program that Police Chief Bryce Bogenholm spoke about.

Bogenholm said this program has been very successful in other communities, and it was being brought to Moose Lake. Several sizable donations have already been received.

“These donations will go to help underprivileged kids,” he told the council. “A lot of kids don’t know the joy of Christmas that other kids do. We’ll be getting the names of kids from Human Services and the school counselors, and then take the kids shopping at Shopko. We haven’t set a date yet.”

The council canvassed the ballots from the General Election. Incumbent Doug Juntunen was re-elected, and Walter Lower III was elected to the city council, defeating incumbent Mike Peterson. Mayor Ted Shaw was running unopposed and was elected to another term as mayor.

The next meeting of the Moose Lake City Council was set for Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 4 p.m.


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