Cell tower work stoppedWork has stopped on the cell phone tower going up in Lake County’s Fall Lake Township east of Ely and near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Work has stopped on the cell phone tower going up in Lake County’s Fall Lake Township east of Ely and near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Last month, a group called the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness filed suit against AT&T Mobility in Minneapolis to have the court consider further review of the tower location and height.
Lake County Attorney Russ Conrow said AT&T agreed Monday to stop work on the tower and Friends agreed to reset a hearing for a temporary injunction to Aug. 4. Friends wants to prevent the construction of a 450-foot tower it says will “despoil the scenic, aesthetic, and other natural resources” of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that lies a few miles north of the planned tower off Fernberg Road.
Fall Lake Township Supervisor Mary Tome said she stopped by the site Friday as workers brought parts of the tower in and planned to start erecting it. She said residents there are “frustrated” that “someone from down there is once again” affecting the lives of people in her township. She meant the Twin Cities area and a long history of environmental activism coming from people far away from the protected area.
“There’s no buffer zone to the Boundary Waters,” she said about the notion that lights from the tower would take away from the canoe experience. She said lights from cities and residential areas can be seen from BWCAW lakes.
AT&T said it is still looking into the case and wasn’t ready to comment. Public relations representative Amy Grundman offer a prepared statement only:
“The Lake County Planning Commission has been working on this site with the permit applicants and the public for more than a year, and has determined that there is a need for a communications tower to provide wireless communication ser-vices to the residents, businesses, tourists and emergency responders in the Lake County area.”
Lake County Commissioner Tom Clifford echoed those sentiments last week when he heard about the lawsuit. He was unavailable for comment on the work stoppage.
Clifford has been the board’s point man in getting cell coverage in the county’s more remote areas. Towers have gone up or are planned in Isabella and Finland.
Paul Danicic, executive director of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, writes in a piece on today’s News-Chronicle Opinion page that “it is not our intent to prevent people who live along the Fernberg Road and the surrounding area from getting the cell phone service they desire.”
Danicic said his group filed the June 22 lawsuit after failing to engage AT&T in any kind of dialogue about the impact of the tower the past year. “Our priority then and now is to find a way to have cell phone service on the Fernberg without impairing the wilderness character of the Boundary Waters,” he writes.