Viaero Wireless failed Tuesday to get approval for cell towers in North Platte to provide seamless coverage to customers. Viaero faced a public outcry, similar to the protests in May when the company wanted to erect a 100-foot tower on the corner of Fourth and Willow.
This time around, Viaero hoped to build two towers. One would be at Eighth and Willow, inside a residential area, a couple blocks from the Union Pacific railroad main line. The other was slated for at corner of West E and Sherman, near the First United Methodist Church.
The towers would be 20 feet shorter than the tower the company proposed in May, but the shorter height did not stem the tide of protests.
Earlier, the North Platte Planning Commission voted to not recommend the permit. They said that the tower would not be in harmony with the character and normal use of the area.
At the last minute, the application for the tower at West E was pulled from the council agenda, even though it is the heart of the coverage area that Viaero needs, according to the company's application. The property owners – the church – asked that the request be removed from consideration.
Residents near Eighth and Willow expressed fear of damage to property values and detrimental radiation effects over the long term. Residents noted the tower would be near a school and expressed concern for the health of the children.
In the application, Viaero said the tower was needed to provide 4G coverage -- a high capacity coverage that allows smart phones to function like computers.
Viaero said the tower could increase property values because smart phones will carry more data, 911 calls and responses would improve, and the coverage would benefit both residents and businesses, promoting economic development.
But residents who spoke were all opposed.
Roy Welch, 315 W. Seventh, said he is “just three years away from retiring and I want to feel sure that I’m going to make that with good health. I don’t want my property value to drop and I really don’t want this big tower just outside my back door.”
During discussion, Councilman Jim Carman said he put himself in the place of the residents, and he would not want a tower near his house.
“I must consider the feeling of those that live in that neighborhood too,” Carman said.
The council voted 8-0 against the application.
Bulletin Editor George Lauby contributed to this report.