Feedback requested for the red light demonstration on the Ridge

Cell Phone

Words by Nichole Zangara / Communications

For the last five years, many residents and visitors have experienced an interruption in cell phone service, specifically during peak times when the overall destination population increases dramatically. In an effort to combat cell service interruptions, the Telluride Ski & Golf Company (TSG), in association with a tower company, is planning to construct and operate a communications tower which would serve multiple cell carriers and could include equipment for public safety communications in accordance with the approved Mountain Village conditional use permit.

This proposed new lattice communication tower would be located on TSG open space on the Ridge near the top of Station St. Sophia, and next to the existing 90-foot KOTO tower. After obtaining the conditional use permit from the Town of Mountain Village, which does not allow lights on the tower, the tower company learned that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires an eight-inch red light affixed to the tower due to its proximity to the Telluride Regional Airport. In aviation terms, the tower is considered a hazard since it would sit within a certain radius to the airport, so it must be marked appropriately.

But before this new requirement is considered, officials with Mountain Village and San Miguel County have requested a demonstration. Between October 26 and November 7, a temporary story pole standing at 100 feet on the Ridge will include a lighted red light device, satisfying the applicable FAA hazard lighting requirements as to its size and intensity, from dusk to dawn in order to gauge any impacts the light may have on the neighboring communities.

“This tower is about more than communications; it is about the safety of our residents and visitors, which is why Mountain Village Town Council granted TSG the conditional use permit for the tower in August of 2015. This permit included a condition that a light could not be affixed to the tower. Now that it is a requirement of the FAA, TSG informed us for the need to modify their conditional use permit; however, given the impacts and Ridgeline Covenant on this piece of property a lot more information is needed prior to moving forward,” explained Town Manager Kim Montgomery.

Before granting such a modification and after the demonstration period ends, Mountain Village Town Council, Telluride Town Council, and the San Miguel County Board of Commissioners will hold a joint public worksession, date to be determined, to discuss the matter and the findings of the story pole demonstration. San Miguel County enforces the Ridgeline Covenant, which is intended to prevent lighting
or buildings from extending into the Coonskin View Plane where such improvements would be seen from the Town of Telluride and portions of the Telluride Valley. If it is agreed to move forward, TSG will have to apply and go through the public hearing process to amend the conditional use permit to allow the safety light.

To provide comments about the temporary story pole, please email Planning and Development Services Director Glen Van Nimwegen.