Tower votes should be more consistent

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It seemed to be "just say no" to radio towers Monday night at the McCook City Council.

First was an ongoing dispute with the McCook Public Power District over replacement of a communications tower near its North U.S. Highway 83 headquarters in McCook.

Utility officials say their old radio tower needs to be replaced with a taller one to keep crews in touch with their home base. It's an important safety issue with them.

City officials say the proposed tower would be high enough to cause concern for aircraft approaching McCook Regional Airport. While the Federal Aviation Administration has given initial approval for the higher tower, city officials point to a similar situation in Loup City, where a tower, once approved and built, was then deemed to interfere with the glide scope.

McCook is installing an instrument landing system capable of keeping the airport open in more marginal conditions, and city officials don't want to jeopardize funding for that.

The issue is likely to wind up in court again.

In a second communications tower issue Monday night, the mere implied threat of a court challenge was enough to keep the City Council from approving a new cellular tower near a development of higher-priced homes.

One earlier tower in east McCook was approved without opposition, but another tower, in west McCook, was approved after limited opposition.

In that case, however, some of the surrounding homes were mobile homes; others were conventional structures, but lower priced than the ones near Monday's disputed tower.

We agree with some residents that the new cellular towers are exceedingly ugly. But it seems to us that most people no longer even notice the towers that are already in place.

And, while the City Council must safeguard the public, it should encourage legitimate economic development such as cellular telephone service.

Still, approval of the west tower, which did have some opposition, and denial of the latest, north tower seems to be inconsistent.

The City Council should represent all the people of McCook equally.

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