News

Cell tower criticized by councilman

By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman filed an appeal Nov. 4, trying to halt the planned construction of a 150-foot Qwest cell tower along state Route 410 next to the Rainier Plaza building. Residents living along 181st Avenue East claim the tower will affect their views and lower neighborhood property values.

Although Swatman does not live in the area that would be impacted by the tower, he felt he was best suited to file the appeal on behalf of the neighborhood. "The regulations were written so cell towers were not all grouped together," he said. "I think we should try to put them on public property so citizens and city government can use the revenues."

The Qwest cell tower proposal went before the city's hearing examiner, Stephen Kausseaux Jr., in May. A neighborhood spokesman, Roy Caviezel, stated that residents from 23 homes along 181st presented a petition to the examiner and the city council protesting the placement of the tower. Caviezel and Bob Pranger organized the neighborhood petition drive.

"To my knowledge that was the first and only spot considered by Qwest for the tower," Caviezel said. "There has to be other area that could be considered and it seems contrary to Bonney Lake's mission statement to protect the city's scenic beauty."

The 181st neighborhood, Caviezel noted, "is the only fully residential area of any consequence on the 410 commercial corridor. If they build the tower, on one side we will have a view of the valley and on the other a view of a cell tower. We don't feel an ugly tower should be built along the convergence of a residential and commercial area."

In October, the hearing examiner approved a conditional use permit allowing the tower's construction under certain conditions. Qwest must plant trees along the west side of the tower, paint the tower black and place a large flag on top.

"It's supposed to be a stealth tower. With the flag, they want it to look like something other than a cell tower ," Swatman said. "But those poor people have to put up with it. I always hated it when the little guy gets ran over. If nobody stands up and yells, they eventually come after you."

The appeal will go before the city council on Dec. 9. Because Swatman filed the appeal, he will have to recuse himself from the council when the cell tower appeal is considered.

The city reports there is no current inventory of cell towers in and around Bonney Lake. Another permit has been granted for a cell tower at Allen Yorke Park and there is a public antenna placed on the emergency communications tower along side the Public Safety Building.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com

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