To help promote a Hudson, Texas-based internet provider’s campaign to expand internet access in rural Barton County, the County Commission Monday morning approved the second of five conditional land use permit for AMG Technology Investment Group (Nextlink) to build a telecommunications tower.
The Environmental Management Department received an application from the company for the construction of a 120-foot monopole-type telecommunications tower on a parcel of land owned by Charles and Katie Sharp, Environmental Manager Judy Goreham said. The land is located southeast of the City of Great Bend on the Barton-Stafford county line.
A public hearing was held on Jan. 12 by the Barton County Planning Commission to consider authorizing the permit, she said. The Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the request be approved, but there were concerns expressed, she said.
“A number of people came to the hearing,” she said. Most notably was a nearby property owner and the crop-dusting pilot he hires to spray his fields.
They were concerned that since the tower would be nestled in a wooded area surrounded by fields that it might be a danger for ag aviators. “We had some really good discussion,” Goreham said.
In the end, the Planning Commission placed a condition on the permit. The top 40 feet must be banded in orange and white aviation paint so it can be easily spotted, since the tower’s overall silver paint could blend into the scenery.
“We felt this was the best route to go,” she said. “This is a very good visual addition for the pilots.”
She said the company was willing to make the change at its expense.
Goreham said some were worried about setting a precedent with this change since it was not required with the first tower. On Dec. 28, the commission OKed permit allowing Nextlink to construct a 120-foot tower north of Pawnee Rock.
But, with three more to go, she said they will all be addressed on a case-by-case basis. The third structure will be on the County Commission’s agenda next week.
“I am proud of this committee for being forward thinking and proactive,” District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. It was a few years ago that Commissioner Don Cates died in a crop-dusting plane crash.
Planted deeply in concrete without guy wires, the structures will more closely resemble a tall light pole than the conventional lattice-work tower.
Since it is shorter than 200 feet, it doesn’t require and lighting at its peak.
Goreham said Nextlink has stressed these towers are for internet only. They have no plans to provide cell phone service.
Barton County Commission meeting at a glance
Here’s a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:
• Discussed COVID-19 vaccinations.
• Approved a conditional land use permit for AMG Technology Investment Group (Nextlink).
The Environmental Management Department received an application from the company for the construction of a 120-foot monopole-type telecommunications tower on a parcel of land owned by Charles and Katie Sharp, Environmental Manager Judy Goreham said. The land is located southeast of the City of Great Bend.
A public hearing was held on Jan. 12 by the Barton County Planning Commission to consider authorizing the permit, she said. The Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the request be approved, she said.
• Approved an interlocal agreement for the City of Hoisington’s Neighborhood Revitalization Plan.
Hoisington has submitted an updated Neighborhood Revitalization Plan which provides a tax rebate incentive for property owners to either remodel, repair or build new construction within city limits, City Manager Jonathan Mitchell said. The plan is intended to promote the revitalization and development of the City of Hoisington by stimulating new construction, rehabilitation, conservation or redevelopment within the city.
• Reappointed Libby Merritt, Brian Wilborn and Krista Smith to the Health Department Advisory Committee.
Barton County solicited applicants for uncompensated positions for the committee which provides guidance, recommendation and assistance to the Barton County Health Department staff, said Health Director Karen Winkelman. The uncompensated positions term Dec. 31, 2022.
The committee must have at least five members with a maximum of nine. There is still one opening for a representative from the allied health field.
• Approved a matching fund requests from the Dodge City-based SouthWest Kansas Area Agency on Aging.
SWKAAA is requesting matching funds from Barton County in the amount of $1,500. These funds, which would be used as “seed dollars,” are an equivalent match to the $549,470 in services received by older residents, particularly those over 70, from Barton County, County Administrator Phil Hathcock said.
The county has traditionally provided this match from the Finance General Account of the General Fund and it is an annual budgeted item.
• Approved the continuation of the agreement for physical capacity profile testing through WorkFit. The cost is $110 pre test, up from $105 last year.
WorkFit, offered through a partnership between Barton Community College and Advance Therapy and Sports Medicine, provides the testing for pre-employment purposes. The testing determines the abilities of the potential employee to perform a job’s essential functions, with or without reasonable accommodation, County Administrator Phil Hathcock said.