Cellphone tower denied permit

A Rogers Communications Inc. proposal to build a cellphone tower near homes in Sylvan Lake has been met with static from residents and municipalities.

A Rogers Communications Inc. proposal to build a cellphone tower near homes in Sylvan Lake has been met with static from residents and municipalities.

Both the Town of Sylvan Lake and Red Deer County voiced their opposition to the chosen site for the 60-metre tower off 60th Street on the southwest edge of the town.

A small group of town residents applauded on Tuesday afternoon when the county’s municipal planning commission (which is comprised of members of council) voted 4-3 to deny a development permit for the tower.

“I thought we were not going to win this one,” said a relieved Hope Jensen after the meeting.

Residents said cellphone coverage is important but they want Rogers to either build the site further away from homes or use existing towers.

Homeowners are also concerned the tower will hurt property values, could pose a health risk and will be an eyesore.

“I think there are other locations where it would be better suited,” said Jensen.

Helen Dietz was also concerned about property devaluation and noted the tower falls in an area due to be developed.

“There’s a lot of growth anticipated for that area for the Town of Sylvan Lake.”

Lori Mercredi said she has passed her concerns on to Rogers but has not heard back and feels residents are being ignored.

“It’s just like a done deal, and I feel it’s really unfair to people who live around there.”

County Mayor Jim Wood spoke strongly in favour of the tower, saying while no one wants a tower next to them, good cellphone communications are important to economic development.

Coun. Richard Lorenz said he didn’t see how this issue was any different than putting an industrial area across from housing.

“There are other places where (the tower) could be moved.” Town of Sylvan Lake council also voiced its opposition to the tower in a motion passed on Monday night to send that message to Rogers.

Town communications officer Joanne Gaudet said the proposed site is identified for future growth.

“Being as it’s so close to current residential and potentially right in the middle of a future development for us … it’s just an inappropriate area and we would like them to move it back,” she said.

“We do know from the past there are other options for the placing of cellphone towers, so hopefully they can try an alternative that isn’t so close to residential.”

The county’s decision and local opposition does not necessarily mean the cellphone plan is dead.

Towers are federally regulated and it will be up to Industry Canada to decide what location is appropriate.

A Rogers spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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