Telecommunications tower approved near Sunlight

T-Mobile anticipated to be the primary carrier on the new tower, expanding service area

July 25, 2023

Garfield County has approved a limited impact land use change permit allowing construction of a new telecommunications tower off Forest Service Road 300, roughly a 1.5 miles west of Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort. The proposed 70-foot-tall tower provides expanded cellular service into the Four Mile Park area and complies with all Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations, according to the application filed by Vertical Bridge Development LLC.

T-Mobile is anticipated to be the primary carrier on the tower, according to Garfield County Community Development Principal Planner Glenn Hartmann. The applicant also noted that the tower will accommodate co-location with other telecommunications carriers. Hartmann added that the applicant can help ensure that the tower matches the natural surroundings to alleviate any visual impacts.

“There are some opportunities for them to do some painting or making sure the finish of the tower blends in well with the native vegetation and the surrounding area,” he said.

A 540-foot driveway, which features a steep 15 percent grade in some spots, is being constructed to access the small facility on the 35-foot by 50-foot leased site on a larger residential property. No lighting is anticipated unless it is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Mike Bieniek, zoning director for LCC Telecom Services of Rosemont, IL, who was speaking on behalf of the applicant, told the Board of County Commissioners that the tower is made from galvanized metal and is nonreflective.

“This should cover the desire to make it blend in, plus it’s only 70 feet tall and the surrounding trees are 50 to 70 feet tall,” he said. “It’s not going to be visible.”

Staff suggested approval of the permit with conditions, including a roadway waiver that construction traffic must comply with any permitting requirement of Garfield County Road and Bridge and the U.S. Forest Service, and the applicant must file any applicable permits with the FAA.

Construction is anticipated to begin “as soon as possible,” Bieniek added. The change permit was approved unanimously, 3-0.