New Rico Celltower/Flagpole Height Variance Proposal Considered for Fire Station Site

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Rico's flagpole-style cellular wireless "tower" at the firehouse viewed from the east side of Hwy 145/Glasgow Ave. The white pole is 30-feet tall. Gold ball at poletop is visible (arrow). Firehouse obstructs view of pole and U.S. flag. Proposed new pole height is 45 feet, and will replace the existing pole.

Ore Cart photo - December 8, 2020

Taller 45-ft pole requested for new AT&T FirstNet first responder cellular wireless service.

Conventional consumer wireless service will move to new pole . . . existing 30-ft pole will be removed.

"Will bring 21st century tools to public safety agencies and first responders."

"Would allow the expansion for future wireless growth to improve service in the surrounding area."


Rico Planning Commission

regular monthly meeting

December 9, 2020 6:00 PM


Consideration of an application for a height variance for a cell phone tower at 119 S. Glasgow (Rico Fire Department Building), SAC Wireless on behalf of AT&T, applicant

The owner and operator of the existing Rico cellular wireless site is Commnet.

In an October 18, 2019 correspondence to Town of Rico, Commnet authorized SAC Wireless of Chicago, Illinois, to represent Commnet for the following functions:

  • evaluate site conditions
  • negotiate modifications to Commnet current real estate agreements
  • obtain necessary permits
  • perform maintenance and service work at Commnet facilities

Rico Fire Protection District involvement

A Letter of Authorization prepared by Commnet and signed by Rico Fire Protection District on June 23, 2020 appoints Commnet:

 . . . as agent for the purpose of consummating any zoning and permitting applications necessary to ensure its ability to use and/or construct improvements to the Property leased, or licensed to it, for the purpose of constructing a wireless communications facility. . . .

AT&T / Commnet relationship

Commnet Wireless and AT&T Mobility signed a $167.5 million agreement for Commnet to build and maintain a radio access network (RAN) for AT&T’s commercial and First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) network in or near Commnet’s Southwest U.S. network area in 2019.

Variance Application request details

Excerpts of the SAC Wireless Variance Application submitted to Town of Rico are reproduced below. - (Subtitles added by Ore Cart)

Purpose of variance request

Commnet is requesting the variance to go above the 35' highest point on a structure in order to install FirstNet equipment and move over the existing Commnet equipment onto the new tower. The FirstNet mission is to deploy, operate, maintain and improve the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. This reliable, highly secure, interoperable and innovative public safety communications platform will bring 21st century tools to public safety agencies and first responders, allowing them to get more information quickly and helping them to make faster and better decisions. . . .

Historic Commercial Zone architectural features

The design of the proposed wireless communication facility will match the existing stealth flag pole. The proposed tower will also be a stealthed flagpole instead of an ordinary monopole. This stealth design was chosen to fit in with the decorative architectural features of the Historic Zone District.

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Cellular wireless site at Rico Fire Station. Reproduced from SAC Wireless Variance Application submitted to Town of Rico.

Impact on pedestrians, parking, and loading

. . . The wireless telecommunications facility will not interfere with any pedestrian traffic flow, parking, load and deliverables. The compound is enclosed by an existing wooden fence and the proposed stealth flag pole is an unmanned site.

Special circumstances on the property

. . . The current property has the use of a fire station. We propose the installation of this facility to help deploy the FirstNet equipment that benefits the first responders, including the Fire Department, Police Department and EMTs. Additionally, the tower would allow the expansion for future wireless growth to improve service in the surrounding area. There is already an existing wireless telecommunications facility located on this property.

Visual, access, parking, snow removal, buildings separation & setback impacts

. . . the tower is located on the south side of the Rico Volunteer Fire Department away from the firetruck access driveway. The tower is not located in an area that would impact snow removal, streetscape, separation of a building for fire protection, or an area that would be used for off-street parking. The tower is in a nook in the back of the fire station, which minimizes the visual impact that would disrupt any views to the surrounding mountains or solar access. . . .

Potential benefit for Rico cellular wireless consumers

Ore Cart previously reported on AT&T's prediction of improved service resulting from FirstNet upgrades at the Rico celltower. Suzanne Trantow, Lead Public Relations Manager – West Region - AT&T Corporate Communications provided email comments to Ore Cart on February 25, 2020 - (excerpts below)

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In addition to providing coverage for AT&T customers, the proposed build would provide first responder coverage in Rico across FirstNet, public safety’s dedicated nationwide communications platform.

Due to an agreement with CommNet, AT&T commercial and FirstNet subscribers would be able to utilize the site as a native LTE AT&T site, instead of roaming on another company’s network.

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FirstNet antennas will be installed at 30-feet height, and Commnet antennas at 41 feet, according to Project Narrative submitted by SAC Wireless.

More info

- February 27, 2020