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Felt Cell Phone Tower

Decision Makers: Teton County, ID Planning & Zoning Commission

Topic: Felt Cell Phone Tower

Teton County P&Z Commission
89 North Main Street
Driggs, Idaho 83422
 
RE: Proposed cell phone tower in Felt.
 
Dear Commissioners:

 This cell tower conditional use permit (CUP) as it is currently proposed does not
meet the mandatory criteria for granting a CUP as spelled out in both the Teton County
Code (T.C.C. 8-6-1-B-7) and the Idaho Local Land Use Planning Act (I.C. § 67-6512). 

First, I.C. § 67-6512(a) permits a CUP to be granted if the use is conditionally
permitted by ordinance. It is my understanding that this commission previously
determined that Felt is zoned R1 because of the small, dense townsite lots. This is a
zoning designation that prohibits cell phone towers.  (T.C.C. 8-4-1)

Secondly, our ordinances mandate that the location of the CUP shall be
compatible with the other uses in the general neighborhood. (T.C.C. 8-6-1-B-7-a) The
county has struggled to devise a plan for beautifying Felt, and the narrow, compact lots in
this townsite have created a residential node with very high-density housing. An 80-foot
cell phone tower built amidst a tightly packed residential townsite is not compatible with
other uses in this neighborhood.

Finally, both T.C.C. 8-6-1-B-7-d and I.C. § 67-6512(a) require the proposed use
to not conflict with the 2004-2010 Comprehensive Plan. The design of this tower as
proposed in the present location will conflict with the following provisions of the
Comprehensive Plan:

o Implementation 2: Encourage the development of small, light industrial activities
in appropriate locations that do not have negative impacts on the environment and
the health and welfare of residents. (Page 28)

o Implementation 3: In the interest of character preservation, chain businesses and
other development shall be required to design buildings and other facilities that
blend with the local architecture. (Page 28. Emphasis Added.)

o Policy 2: It is recognized that views across the valley from the main transportation
routes are integral to the rural experience and a sense of open space in Teton
Valley. (Page 30) 

o Implementation 17: As the county continues to grow, additional industrial uses
shall be buffered with uses that protect surrounding landowners. (Page 33)

o Policy 4: Conserve and protect esthetic values including scenic open spaces, quiet
neighborhoods, dark night skies, clean air, safe communities, and accessible
public lands. (Page 35)

In addition to the arguments above, now really is the time for the County to adopt a
cell tower ordinance so these things are not handled on an ad hoc basis. The City of
Driggs is considering a cell tower ordinance, the goals of which include:

(1) Protect residential areas and land uses from potential adverse impacts of
towers and antennas; 

(2) Encourage the location of towers in non-residential areas; 

(3) Minimize the total number of towers throughout the community, while
protecting scenic views by restricting height; 

(4) Strongly encourage the joint use of new and existing tower sites as a primary
option rather than construction of additional single-use towers; 

(5) Encourage users of towers and antennas to locate them on existing structures,
and in areas where the adverse impact is minimal; 

(6) Encourage users of towers and antennas to configure them in a way that
minimizes the adverse visual impact of the towers and antennas through careful
design, sitting, landscape screening, and innovative camouflaging techniques; 

(7) Enhance the ability of the providers of telecommunications services to provide
such services to the community quickly, effectively, and efficiently; 

(8) Consider the public health and safety of communication towers;

(9) Avoid potential damage to adjacent properties from tower failure or falling debris
through engineering and careful sitting of tower structures.

Another benefit of a cell tower ordinance is that it would guide you in determining the
best tower design, location, and mitigations for our community. Thank you once again for
all your hard work.
 
  Sincerely,
 
   Anna Trentadue
   VARD Program / Staff Attorney 

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