Tall tower on the horizon

A public notice sign is up regarding the proposed 320-foot tower at the corner of Happy Valley Road and Johnson Creek Road.  - Sequim Gazette Photo By Alana Linderoth
A public notice sign is up regarding the proposed 320-foot tower at the corner of Happy Valley Road and Johnson Creek Road.
— image credit: Sequim Gazette Photo By Alana Linderoth

The possibility of new 320-foot communications tower atop Burnt Hill is under way.

Though no construction has been done yet, the area has been semi-prepped under a site access license with Department of Natural Resources to properly evaluate the site.

A 14-day comment period to Clallam County officials ends May 9 regarding State Environmental Policy Act, but will be followed with a public hearing to further discuss the tower and whether or not Gunnerson Consulting and Communication Site Services can move forward with its tower design.

“The Burnt Hill Tower variance request is intended to relieve the congestion and growing potential for signal interference,” according to the variance application.

The extra height would allow for enough distance between “hi” and “low” frequencies, or more simply put “in” and “out” frequencies to share a single tower versus the need for multiple towers and outbuildings like that of Maynard Peak communication site, said Ken Hays of Kenneth Hays Architect and agent for Gunnerson Consulting and Communication Site Services.

The location site for the tower is about 1.5 miles southwest from the end of Johnson Creek Road off DNR Road PTJ2000.

Given the decided area for the potential tower is within a “Resource Zone” the Wireless Communication Facilities Performance Standard doesn’t allow new support towers to exceed 200 feet; hence the need for a zoning variance, or in other words, special approval to build a tower 120-feet taller than currently allowed.

Some residents of the surrounding Burnt Hill area are concerned with the proposed height of the tower and seemingly lack of public notice.

“Other than a small sign it would have been nice to have more public notice,” said Molly Omann, a resident of  the Burnt Hill area. “It’s just so nice to look up at the hills without any obstruction.”

Omann further explained she is not opposed to bettering telecommunications and realizes a potential need, but would have appreciated more notice in order to learn more about the tower and its effects.

Hays assured the appearance of the area was considered during the design and proposal of the tower.

“Unless you know where the tower is, it would be very hard to make out,” Hays said. “The team (Gunnerson Consulting and Communication Site Services) is convinced that the aesthetic impact is minimal.”

The tower won’t look any different than some of “the big snags sticking out on the hill,” Hays said.

Whether the proposed tower will change the panoramic views south of Sequim is undetermined, but will be further explored, along with other aspects of the tower at the public hearing May 28.


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