Saying federal laws and their own zoning regulations gave them little choice, Douglas County commissioners approved a conditional use permit for a cell tower three miles south of Eudora.
With the permit, MW Towers LLC is free to build a 190-foot cell tower on the property of F. Dwane and Valerie Richardson at 2138 North 1000 Road. The decision was unanimous, which was required to pass the measure after neighbors filed a protest petition opposing the tower permit.
Commissioner Nancy Thellman said she cast her vote with reluctance because she understood the concerns of neighbors.
“Given the constraints we are under, I’m not persuaded to vote against this cell tower,” she said. “I’m going to reluctantly support this.”
The decision came after MW Towers attorney Vincent O’Flaherty addressed the issues neighbors raised at public hearings. He said that under federal law, zoning and environmental regulations could not be used to prevent the construction of towers that were otherwise in compliance with Federal Communications Commission regulations.
Commissioners did debate whether the tower would create a safety hazard for the ultralight airfield F. Dwane Richardson operates on the property, but ultimately deferred to his testimony at a Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission meeting that the tower would not constitute a safety issue.