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County P&Z recommends conditional approval of a CUP for a cell tower at the far northern end of Relay Ridge

County P&Z recommends conditional approval of a CUP for a cell tower at the far northern end of Relay Ridge

Silverstar Communications applied for a conditional use permit (CUP) and a variance to the county’s 30-foot height limitation for a 100-foot communication tower on a 0.92-acre site, on the far northern end of Relay Ridge in the Big Hole Mountains, West of Tetonia Idaho. The Teton County Emergency Management requested two sites on the tower for emergency communications systems. A big sticking point between Silverstar and P&Z was whether or not these two sites should be free of charge into perpetuity. Silverstar proposed the sites be free for ten years and then a rental fee would be assessed after that time. The county attorney argued in a memo they should be free into perpetuity. VARD argued that it would be irresponsible to approve a tower with an open-ended rental agreement that would balloon on the county in ten years. In the end, the board took a slightly different tactical route, and instead placed a ten-year time limit on the tower, during which time, the emergency services tower sites would be free.

In recent years, cell towers have been proposed by several different (competing) communications providers in many different locations of the valley. There has never been an overall plan for when or where these towers are built. This issue is further complicated by the fact that each of the cellular providers is in direct competition with each other. Because of this, VARD encouraged P&Z to craft a communications overlay for the county to avoid redundant towers and promote cost-sharing and coordination between these companies.

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