A star marks the tower location next to Webb Lake in Weld where AT&T plans to build a cellphone tower. The dark area indicates the current coverage area for cellphone reception. Screenshot

WELD — The Planning Board took no action Wednesday night on a request to reconsider the AT&T cellphone tower application.

The application was unanimously approved in September 2020, but the decision was appealed by the Weld Cell Phone Tower Information Committee.

In January, the Board of Appeals sent the issue back to the Planning Board, ruling that specific requirements were not met.

At the March 17 meeting, the board voted to adopt the findings of fact and conclusions from the Feb. 17 meeting regarding AT&T SAI Communications’ application. It also agreed to discuss the reconsideration request emailed March 8 by the committee.

“There’s no formal process in your ordinance for a request for reconsideration,” Planning Board attorney Zachary Brandwein of Bernstein Shur said. “As a Planning Board you have the right to reconsider your decision. You are not required to vote on the request. If you decide to do nothing or don’t want to reconsider that decision, you don’t have to take a vote. If however you feel it’s appropriate to reconsider, then a motion, second and vote is required to reopen it.”

The Planning Board can discuss it without further input from others, Brandwein said.


Staying with their decision was the suggestion of Planning Board member Thomas Wheeler.

“We’ve reviewed the process, made an initial decision,” he said. “We may have had a couple of procedural hiccups along the line. I think our review of the remand from the Board of Appeals was considerate. We voted and approved adopting our findings of fact. I think we were very thorough.”

The town’s Comprehensive Plan suggests having a Land Use Ordinance to control and conserve important scenic views but that was never voted on, Planning Board member Nancy Stowell said.

“According to the State Planning Office, we would have to have a committee identify and designate scenic views in the town, that inventory then has to go in front of the voters at a town meeting and get approved,” she said. “That never happened so we have not designated viewsheds and we have no land use ordinance. We can’t say there must be a visual impact assessment when it’s not in our municipal ordinance.”

The board has done the due process of the remand, Planning Board member Ernestine Hutchinson agreed.

“I feel, based on the black and white, we were not able to take into consideration Article 1 and Article 2, the purpose of the code itself,” she said. “We got stuck on interpretation.


“When I look at this code, it’s not black and white for every single situation,” Hutchinson continued. “My understanding wasn’t until we did this process that the Planning Board can determine or ask for anything we want.”

Not having the visual impact study didn’t help the taxpayers even though the outcome may have been the same, she said.

“There wasn’t a lot of visual,” Hutchinson noted. “I think we had the right to ask the applicant for that documentation and we didn’t.”

The board wasn’t instructed in the beginning, she said.

AT&T officials say they are a Fortune 500 company, she noted.

“To me, they should have had all that documentation for us, even though it wasn’t in the ordinance,” Hutchinson said. “They do it for every other town they put a tower up. We got very little information and have been struggling from the get-go because we got a slide show and they presented what they wanted to.”


The tower application isn’t the same as other applications that have come before the board, she said.

“It’s not a structure, it’s not defined the same way in my mind,” Hutchinson said. “We got very little information and that’s why I abstained from the vote initially because I don’t feel I had the information to make a good decision based on our ordinance.

“The purpose of our ordinance is to make sure commercial, recreational and residential are all combining nicely in our town,” she said. “I don’t know if we did that.”

AT&T’s application for a 190-foot lattice tower would allow spots for three additional carriers and one for the town. The tower would be erected on land leased from Kevin and Holly Cochran off Phillips Road just before Fire Lane 17 and beyond the Weld Inn.

An email received from the Weld Cell Phone Tower Information Committee after Wednesday’s meeting indicates they will again appeal the decision. The committee sent an email to Planning Board members earlier Wednesday asking to have questions answered since public comment wasn’t allowed during the meeting.

In the findings of fact it notes that the particular site was selected, in part, because it was less visually impactful than other locations within the AT&T coverage gap area and because AT&T found a willing landowner to lease land for the tower siting. Those appealing the decision want to know how that statement can be true without having done the visual impact studies and where the actual coverage gap area is. Ambiguity in the deed, how the tower impacts abutting neighbors, how the landscape will be preserved or softened to minimize those impacts, tower removal should it become obsolete and concern about a light at the top of the tower were other concerns noted.

“At the Board of Appeals meeting on January 11, 2021, Attorney Aga Dixon stated that the Weld Planning Board has the jurisdiction to mitigate the location of this cell tower. Will you please explain why you wouldn’t both increase the safety and cell coverage for our community, as well as preserve the integrity of our landscape?” the committee wrote in the email.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: