SHERIDAN — A cell tower will soon grace the views northwest of Mydland Road, providing better T-Mobile coverage for residents in the area.
Although T-Mobile’s 4G LTE coverage map on its website shows full cell coverage through a partner provider, Skyway Towers, the owners of the cell tower, said in its application, “T-Mobile is not an option for the community. Sheridan has a need for wireless integration (that) has become a necessity for safety and communication as more and more people abandon land lines.”
The application said four existing Federal Communications Commission-registered towers within a three-mile radius of the proposed tower do not meet the T-Mobile coverage requirements.
Liz Walker, representing Skyway, said because Skyway is in the business of leasing towers to several carriers, others could potentially lease space on the tower as well.
“You can expect that this is going to be infrastructure for other carriers, as well,” Walker said.
The 50-by-50-foot lease area is zoned urban residential, so the Ebzery Limited Family Partnership needed first to apply for a conditional use permit. Communication towers are not identified as permitted in the urban residential district, hence the application for the conditional use permit, Sheridan County planner Mark Reid wrote in the planning and regulatory framework documentation.
Reid said the airport manager in Sheridan weighed in and reported no issues with the 150-foot tower with the stipulation that it include appropriate lighting required by the Federal Aviation Administration. The Sheridan County Planning Commission voted unanimously in support of the tower with requirements for proper lighting and capabilities for those lights to dim or turn off at certain times of the day.
The tower itself will extend 150 feet in the air, self-supported, with up to four separate antenna groups between 100 and 146 feet above grade and will include a 30-by-45-by-6 feet chain link fenced area around the tower for carrier ground equipment.
The Ebzery Limited Family Partnership applied for a building permit even before the conditional use permit passed through the Sheridan County Commission.
Walker noted a statistic from the National Center for Health Statistics that identified 50.5 percent of adults using only wireless service in their homes in the latter half of 2016. Walker said the need for a cell tower goes beyond convenience and into needed infrastructure because of the safety issues with not having coverage.
Walker said the tower is an unmanned site and access will be limited following construction.
“This is future, forward-looking infrastructure for communication services,” Walker said.
One person spoke against the tower during the public comment before the commissioners unanimously approved the conditional use permit.