Steamboat Springs At the last City Council meeting before the body migrates to Centennial Hall, council members made a move to protect the city's past even as it moves into the future.
Led by Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner, council directed city staff to look into potentially restricting telecommunications facilities on city-owned historical properties.
The decision to come forward with the proposal, Stettner said, stemmed from a desire to keep the city's most cherished properties free of cellular towers.
"We need to think about protecting the visible integrity of our historical resources," Stettner said. "If we owned the Alamo, would we put a telecommunications facility on it?"
Stettner said she is worried that if the city lets one facility be built on a historical property, it may have to allow others, because of the nondiscrimination principle in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Because of that aspect of the act, wireless companies have to be allowed equal access to facilities sites, City Attorney Tony Lettunich said. The specific meaning for the city of that nondiscrimination clause, however, is somewhat difficult to decipher.
Sprint PCS recently applied to place a 50-foot wireless telecommunications facility on top of Howelsen Hill, a city-owned property that was designated to the state historical register Dec. 13. The Sprint site would include the capability for collocation, meaning that at least one other provider may be able to locate its antennae on Sprint's pole. Because Sprint got its application in before the city began discussing limiting the ability to place facilities on historical properties, its facility will not be affected by the potential decision.
Lettunich said that the city can do whatever it wants with its land, though he wasn't sure whether the nondiscrimination principle puts the city in a difficult position in terms of limiting facilities on historical properties if it approves Sprint.
Sprint, however, may have to deal with a number of other historical considerations. Because Howelsen Hill is eligible for the National Historic Register after being accepted into the state register, the facility is required to be reviewed under a federal "section 106" process. If the Colorado Historical Society finds that the company's tower would have an adverse impact on a historical site, it could ask Sprint to mitigate that impact or suffer possible legal action.