Lyon County Commissioners reluctantly approve conditional use permit for new cell tower project Featured

County commissioner conduct a time of public comment during their weekly action session Thursday. County commissioner conduct a time of public comment during their weekly action session Thursday. Tagan Trahoon/KVOE News

An application for a new cell tower project hesitantly gained approval during the Lyon County Commission’s weekly action session Thursday.

The application is for an agriculture conditional use permit from AT&T and Network Real Estate for the erection of a 180-foot communications tower. The application has come before the commission on two other occasions before Thursday, first in February where it was tabled for further discussion and again in March where it was sent back to the Lyon County Zoning and Planning Board for reevaluation and a revote.

The application originally passed the board by a 3-1 vote, however, multiple members were absent on that occasion. Upon the revote, the application gained a unanimous 4-0 vote and was sent back to the commission for action.

Numerous reasons led to the lengthy discussions on the application including uncertainty regarding state statutes which dictate what information may be gleaned from developers and what power the county commission has in terms of the application's fate. The proposed location for the tower is on Road 190 between roads D and E west of Emporia.

Here in lies the second issue which arose in which a petition was filed by landowners claiming the tower would carry several impacts including depreciation of their land. Commission Chair Rollie Martin says research was conducted on multiple occasions to gauge the validity of those claims.

Martin tells KVOE News there was no definitive proof found which supported said claims.

Landowner and petitioner Russel Osborn feels the project developers were less than forthcoming with information regarding the tower and the reasoning for their choice of location.

While landowners seem to feel the commission did not make the best decision for community members, Martin believes their hands were tied in the matter. According to Martin, the reasoning is two-fold, firstly due to the aforementioned state statutes which essentially overrides certain aspects of the county's authority according to Martin.

The second factor was the potential of negative implications to the county regardless of their decision. Both sides are currently considering future options as the matter continues to unfold.

There is currently no set date for when the cell tower project will get underway.

In other business, commissioners received their first quarterly report from North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging Executive Director Julie Govert Walter. According to the report the area agency provided information, referral and assistance to approximately 223 customers between Jan. 1 and March 31.

The agency also provided Senior Health Insurance Counseling (SHICK) to 122 customers and distributed 470 commodity boxes, 213 of which were distributed from the Friendship Center alone. On April 1, the area agency was awarded the RSVP Grant with a total of $40,000.

Implementation of that project is currently underway. Numerous requests from other county departments including Road and Bridge, Noxious Weeds and Community Corrections came before commissioners as well. All items were approved aside from the Title VI participation plan presented by Assistant County Engineer Jim Brull.

That item has been tabled for further discussion at a later time. The Lyon County Commission's next meeting is set for next Thursday at 8 am inside the Lyon County Courthouse.

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