Oct. 23--Plans for a cellular tower along with an 80-foot light pole at Memorial Park will go before city council next month.
The Whitefish City-County Planning Board voted Oct. 17 to recommend approval of a conditional use permit requested by Verizon Wireless for the cellular wireless panel antenna on the light pole at the baseball field. A 1,375-square-foot fenced area enclosing an equipment building also planned to be located east of the pole along Fir Avenue.
The proposed structure is expected to provide for expansion of wireless communication needs in the city, according to Whitefish Planning Director Dave Taylor's staff report. Verizon has been doubling its cell phone coverage nationwide to keep up with bandwidth demand as the result of the use of smartphones, he noted.
Planning board member Greg Gunderson praised the tower location.
"It seems like the best possible solution to adding a cell tower by attaching it to an already existing 80-foot pole," he said.
Kevin Howell with Verizon Wireless told the board that the tower should provide coverage for not only downtown Whitefish, but also to both the south and west along U.S. Highway 93.
Verizon representatives have been working with city staff for several month in a search for a suitable location for a cell tower. Other sites considered, but discarded included Depot Park, the city's snow lot near the train depot and the roof of the Whitefish Middle School.
The cell tower will generate lease money that will go to the Glacier Twins baseball program for capital improvements at Memorial Park.
City council will hold a public hearing on the request at its Nov. 4 meeting beginning at 7:10 p.m. at City Hall.
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