A Tough Road to Hoe on Cell Tower Hill

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High in the Rocky Mountains, a 180-ft cell tower reaches out to the residents on Lincoln County, New Mexico, according to the Ruidoso News. The tower first moved into the neighborhood in 2007. Access to the tower requires a drive up a steep road originally maintained by the owner of the property at the base of the road. 

Upon the passing of the original owner, the land is now managed by the Norman L. Stevens Revocable Trust, which is looking to sell the property.

Maintenance of the road up to the cell tower was initially handled by the Stevens family, who received $2,500 annually for upkeep. The town’s original investment in the tower was $58,000. With the prospect of the property being sold, interested parties have been discussing how future maintenance issues should be addressed. 

Larry Stevens, son of the original owner, told the News the road, “is well designed, but steep. It’s in great shape. We agreed to maintain it, because my father lived at the base, had a guy and the equipment and it was easy. It didn’t require much maintenance. It has culverts and diverts the water.” He noted that with the three percent yearly increase, the county last paid them over $3,000. Given the current situation, he suggested the county eliminate the payments and assume maintenance duties for the road.

Weighing in with legal advice, County Attorney Alan Morel said, “I don’t think the county wants its people going up the road. It’s steep. I suggest we delete Stevens’ responsibility to maintain the road and the county’s responsibility to pay, and let any entity that needs to go up, to do what is needed. I’m more concerned about the risk to county employees.”  

Joe Kenmore, County Emergency Services Manager, said his crew visits the tower twice a year, using snowcats in bad weather, the News reported. He indicated that access was not a problem. Commission Tom Stewart agreed with the lawyer’s recommendation saying, “We would forego the annual payment in exchange for us not having to maintain the road.”  When put to a vote, the measure passed with unanimous approval. Comments? Email Us.   

March 1, 2019

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