Construction of a 150-foot Sequim-area radio-cell tower has cleared a key legal challenge but could face another court hurdle.
Clallam County Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer ruled Feb. 7 against Dungeness Heights Homeowners LLC’s land use petition.
Rohrer affirmed Hearing Examiner William Payne’s decision that the radio-cell tower can be built at 766 Brigadoon Blvd. on a 9.3-acre forested, partially sloped ridge.
In doing so, he ruled in favor of cell tower owner Radio Pacific Inc., landowner Shirley Tjemsland and Clallam County.
The radio-cell tower will be disguised as a Douglas-fir tree and will include cellphone colocation panels as part of an estimated $500,000 project that will add a new radio station to the North Olympic Peninsula.
Radio Pacific, Tjemsland and the county must next prepare an order on Rohrer’s opinion for Rohrer to sign, Superior Court Administrator Lindy Clevenger said on Feb. 9.
Dungeness Heights Homeowners (DHH) will have 30 days from when that order is signed to appeal the decision.
Olympia lawyer Gerald Steel, representing DHH, said last week he is considering options for appealing the decision and did not have time Feb. 9 to comment on the ruling.
In a sweeping affirmation of Payne’s March 3, 2016, ruling, Rohrer said all of Payne’s findings “are supported by substantial evidence” and that there were no erroneous interpretations or applications of the law.
“The court is satisfied that the hearing examiner carefully applied each of the variance criteria and balanced competing considerations appropriately,” Rohrer wrote.
Radio Pacific owner Brown M. Maloney of
Sequim, who also owns KONP-AM and KSTI-FM in Port Angeles, said he hopes to have the radio tower up and transmitting radio station signals on an FM band by the end of this year.
The company has about a year to begin transmitting the new radio signals under its Federal Communications Commission license, Radio Pacific General Manager Todd Ortloff said.
Maloney said he did not know when two cellphone providers would add their colocation equipment to the tower.
The tower was raised to 150 feet to accommodate them, prompting the need for a variance and conditional use permit that Payne approved and which DHH challenged.
The 100-foot tower was the maximum height allowed under the county code.