The Fillmore County Planning Commission met on November 16 to consider an application for a condition use permit submitted by TowerNorth to build a telecommunications tower in Section 22 of Chatfield Township.
During a June 8 public hearing before the Board of Adjustment, Alex Trueman, TowerNorth, had requested and received a variance for the telecommunications tower. At that time safety concerns had been raised by some citizens, who objected to the proposed location along this stretch of Highway 52.
Trueman explained he worked with MnDOT to address these concerns. One-hundred and fifty feet of shrubs/trees that obstruct visibility along the highway will be removed. With the removal of the shrubs and trees motorists will have 438 feet of unobstructed view, which exceeds the number of feet considered necessary for a good line of sight.
Trueman said the tower is needed to improve coverage and capacity in the area. This location was selected based on other existing sites to best improve coverage and capacity, in order to better meet demand. TowerNorth will own and construct the tower for Verizon. Verizon will be required to operate within the parameters of the Federal Communications Commission.
Landowners John and Ruth Wendt sent a letter in support of the placement and construction of the cellular communications tower.
There will be a white strobe light on the 250-foot tower.
Commission member Gary Ruskell stated he still disagreed with MnDOT’s findings, insisting the location is in a bad spot.
Trueman said the tower project will not begin until next spring. There will be a traffic control plan used during construction. Once the tower is constructed, only one vehicle will need to use the access to check the tower every four to six weeks.
During the public hearing for the CUP three citizens addressed the commission. Tom Starken, Chatfield Township supervisor, insisted the tower will distract drivers. He feels this is God’s Country and this tower does not add to farm country but commercializes it.
Robert Huntington wanted to know exactly where the access will be located. He disagreed the location chosen by MnDOT was the safest option.
Leo Miller spoke in favor of the tower. Better cell service is needed in the area, especially in case of an emergency. Currently, on some occasions, one needs to find certain spots to get service.
The CUP was approved. Gary Ruskell voted against. The county board will consider the CUP at their November 28 meeting. Commission member Andy Bisek suggested that MnDOT with their experience will have picked the best location for the driveway access.
Public Hearing for Ordinance Amendments
Land Use Director Blake Lea reviewed two proposed changes to the county’s ordinance. There will be a public hearing on each of them at the next Planning Commission meeting.
A proposed change to “734 Rural Home-Based Business” involves removal of Crop Equivalency Rating language. The same language was removed in 2019 from the county’s ordinance concerning the construction of a dwelling in the Ag District, which previously restricted construction on cropland rated greater than 65.
A proposed change to “802 Compliance Inspection Program” for existing septic systems will add one point (f). It will read, in part, “A soil verification shall be required for existing systems where soils have not been previously verified by two independent parties…”
Board of Adjustment
David Carlin, section 36 of Carrolton Township, requested a five-foot variance from the 10-foot property setback requirement. He wants to build a 32-foot by 32-foot garage to be used for storage and processing maple syrup. There was no comment from the township or the public. The variance was approved as requested.
Cory and Margaret Sovers, section 3 of Spring Valley Township, requested a 28-foot variance from the 100-foot setback requirement from the center line of CSAH 1 for the construction of a pole shed. There was no comment from the township or the public. The variance was approved as requested.