Mat-Su Borough Rejects Ordinance Restricting Cell Tower Construction

An ordinance to restrict cell phone tower construction in the Matanuska Susitna Borough was rejected by the Borough’s planning commission last week, in a 5-0 vote. Commissioners said it did not go far enough in regulating the so called “tall ” towers.

Download Audio

 The cell phone tower issue has been a subject of concern for several years, as more of the cell towers sprout in the Borough’s populated areas.

 An earlier ordinance regulating tower construction was repealed by the Assembly in 2011, but the body did not enact new legislation. A conditional use permit is the only requirement for towers of 100 feet at this time. The Assembly also formed a committee to deal with the problem. That committee drafted the current proposed ordinance.

 Eileen Probasco, Director of the Borough’s Planning and Zoning Department, says current Boro codes do not cover safety requirements for cell tower construction

 “Our conditional use permit requirements just generally have a condition on them that the tower be constructed in compliance with other state and federal regulations. The Borough itself doesn’t have any specific requirements on construction of the structure, just mostly the height. “

 Probasco says that in a twelve month period after the Borough Assembly repealed the original cell tower ordinance, 54 conditional use permits were applied for. She says those towers would be grandfathered in if a new ordinance is passed by the Assembly.

 Probasco says the Boro only requires that towers be constructed according to state and federal laws.

At least one cell tower was blown over in high winds in the Borough last year.

Residents of the Valley have called for restrictions, but the proposed ordinance does little more than require developers of the towers to notify nearby residents two months before construction begins. The proposed ordinance also requires developers to notify the Borough planning department and the local community council.

 The planning commission has sent the ordinance back to the Mat Su Borough Assembly, which will introduce it at the Assembly’s next meeting Public hearings will be held on the ordinance on April 15.