West Glacier cell phone tower seeks variance; public hearing Sept. 5

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The Flathead County Board of Adjustment will consider a variance for a new cell phone tower off Belton Stage Road. Clearview Tower of Edison, New Jersey is proposing building a 150-foot tower in an old gravel pit on property off Belton Stage Road owned by Don and Paul Herbert. According to maps provided with the application, the tower is northwest of Great Northern Raft Company

At least two West Glacier residents have raised concerns about the tower. John Gillespie in an email to the planning department said he opposed the tower because the “non thermal radiation and electropollution” were not compatible with the residential neighborhood on Belton Stage.

Gillespie also brought up concerns about a light on the tower, but according to a recent letter from the Federal Aviation Administration to the county planning department, a light isn’t required, because the tower isn’t in a regular flight path. An existing tower in Martin City does have a flashing red light, much to the chagrin of neighbors.

But West Glacier resident Gary J. Kauffman in a lengthy letter opposed the tower on several fronts, including its proximity to flight paths for helicopter tours.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks also raised concerns about the tower and whether it might impact migratory flights of birds. They said the board should consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The tower would house four different cell phone companies transmitters if constructed and would better cell phone service in the area.

West Glacier’s current cell phone coverage ends near Apgar for most providers, though does extend as far as lake McDonald Lodge for others, depending on the phone and the weather. The company argues in its application that it needs the additional height because it’s being placed in the gravel pit. Without a variance, the tower could still be 103 feet tall under county regulations because of its distance away from the road.

County planning staff have recommended approval, with conditions such as fencing, etc., for the project.

The board will hold a public hearing and take up the variance on Sept. 5. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the county’s planning offices in Kalispell.

The full application can be viewed at: https://flathead.mt.gov/planning_zoning/boardofadjustment.php

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