02 February 2017

Hearing on Wireless Communications Tower to be Delayed

A request for the placement of a wireless tower near Crookston, and within Cherry county, will have to be reconsidered due to details associated with the notice for a public hearing for a conditional use permit for the applicant.

Details given during public testimony at the January 31st meeting of the Cherry County Commissioners indicated there were errors in the “legal” notice issued in the newspaper of record and as also sent, as required by county regulations, to landowners adjacent to the proposed tower site. The items of concern were conveyed to the commissioners so that they were aware of them.

The testimony given by a county resident – as paraphrased – concerned particular items henceforth mentioned:

The legal description was not valid. The item within notice indicated the cellular tower location as “Section 20, T34N, R29S, RE: Keenan parcel.”

It was readily obvious that there is no such place upon any legal map. These is no known location within Cherry county with a “R29S” designation. This was a typographical error, since it should have said R29W.

This textual error made the legal notice null and void.

Also, a perspective continues about the words as given in the “legal” public notice issued by the newspaper of record. This is what was printed on page 9 of the January 18, 2017 issue of the Valentine Midland News.

“All interested parties are invited to attend this Public Hearing at which time you will an opportunity to be heard regarding the CUP 01-17 Conditional Use. Written testimony will also be accepted at any time up to and including the Public Hearing. Appearance to speak requires 10 day written notice prior to meeting.”

Problems abound in this singular paragraph, based upon grammar and fact.

Start with: “you will an opportunity to be heard”. There is obviously a word missing, such as have. To get into particulars, these words “CUP 01-17 Conditional Use” perhaps should have included the appended word permit. Most important the first couple of sentences are diametrically opposed to the last sentence.

The initial words indicate that public testimony can be expressed at any time during the public hearing. The last sentence of the paragraph, however, indicates that there is a limitation.

Some of my time had been spent at the office of this official, when the newspaper notice was being prepared for a mailing to landowners adjacent to the property where the proposed tower would be constructed. It was made certain that the photocopy of the newspaper item was what was being sent via the U.S. postal service.

Notable for this meeting on January 31, was its start. Commissioner Tanya Storer started her tenure with a “new tradition” … as each commissioner and others present stood and spoke the pledge of allegiance to a simple U.S.A. flag placed in the middle of the table where the three commissioners sit. Then there was the meeting, based upon an agenda!

Before noon, pertinent items of this public notice were indicated to the three County Commissioner members meeting at their end of January meeting, at Valentine so they would know about the situation.

Two of the three commissioners then spoke, after each of them having taken a look at a worn copy of the newspaper issue with the public notice.

There was more than one word or another in regards that the legal land description was wrong. One commissioner indicated that he could never fly a plane to such a place. Then, the county clerk said that there was no “R29S” in Cherry county.

This little bit of detail was enough to indicate that there would be no public hearing for this CUP application.

There were also other, further words to consider about the necessity for a ten day written notice to speak prior to the meeting.

The verbiage was not acceptable, as discussed during the commissioner meeting.

“Mandatory is not the case … cannot stop someone from speaking,” is what commissioner Tanya Storer said. She then also expressed the public hearing for CUP 01-17 needed to be “opened” and then postponed, a protocol which has occurred for other public meetings during the latter months of 2016.

A change in wording was discussed, that being “requires” to “recommended.”

The topic of discussion was how to adhere to the Open Meetings Act.

The county commissioners realized the situation and acted appropriately to what was wrongly indicated, once again, by the zoning administrator.

These were the results obvious during another day of civic involvement.

During the noon-time hiatus of the official meeting as all three members walked a short distance to enjoy lunch at the nearby Coachlight restaurant, some few steps to the south along Main Street. They all sat together.

There will need to be further involvement in this process. During a review of the application for a cellular tower by Verizon at Crookston, it is obvious that they have not complied – as required - with some clauses in the Cherry county zoning regulations.

This CUP request will eventually be approved, but the county and the applicant will have to adhere to the known procedures and zoning requirements.

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