Cemetery Tower Location Only Slightly Less Contested Than School Site

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Last month, the Hamilton City Council approved a land lease agreement permitting Gold Creek Cellular, a Montana Limited Partnership dba Verizon Wireless, to install a 60-foot, camouflaged tower with an equipment shelter and outdoor generator at Riverview Cemetery, reported the Bitterroot Star. The tower construction is contingent upon the company obtaining a conditional use permit from the Zoning Board of Adjustments.

In August 2016, the company proposed a tower on land near the Hamilton School District next to the city’s River Park, which was met with stiff opposition.

At a May 2 city council meeting, residents also voiced their concerns regarding the cemetery site. Close to a dozen residents spoke out, citing opposition to commercial activity, preserving the value of solace that might be disturbed by the sound of a generator, and concerns about general “disrespect” as it regards tower construction in or near a cemetery. Residents also complained about the lack of notice regarding the tower project.   

Councilor Ken Bell said the council had been discussing the possibility of the cell tower for over a year, giving residents plenty of time to voice their apprehension. “One person showed up at the public hearing. I would interpret that as nobody cares,” said Bell. He added that Gold Creek Cellular came to the city and “presented it as something we could do for the community – providing better cell service.”

Councilor Joe Petrusaitis said the service will also include better data downloading. “They are competing with cable companies and phone companies for customers to download movies and videos,” said Petrusaitis.

After a favorable approval by the board, a meeting is slated for July 24, to consider the permit request.

June 2, 2017       

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