Planning commission greenlights cellphone tower on Montana Creek Road

A rendering of the proposed tower.

The Juneau Planning Commission has approved a cellphone tower along Montana Creek Road.

The 105-foot GCI tower will include a 5-foot lightning rod and antennas.

GCI representative Wayne Haerer said the site will enhance the signal strength for voice, digital data and text to the Mendenhall Valley, where the signal is inadequate.  He says he hopes to have a contractor in place before the end of September.

CBJ Community Development planner Laura Boyce said the tower would be seen about 20 to 30 feet about the trees. It must be painted green or brown to blend into the vegetation as much as possible.

The proposed location for the tower.

Many Montana Creek area residents oppose the tower, including CBJ Assembly member Ruth Danner. In a letter to the Planning Commission, Danner said commissioners should delay their decision until the city has developed a cellphone town policy.  She also cited the need to know the health effects of electromagnetic frequencies.

Deputy community Development Director Greg Chaney said municipalities cannot regulate based on health effects.

“Federal communications law prohibits local jurisdictions from regulating strictly on health effects.  Planning commissions, it you want to take that on, you have to be ready to go to the Supreme Court, because it’s a clear provision in federal law,” Chaney said.

Danner has been fighting cellphone towers since before she ran for the Assembly three years ago.  In this case delaying the decision any longer was not feasible, Boyce said, because federal law requires municipalities act on a complete application for a tower within 150 days.

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