Doug Seacat — owner and operator of Clearnetworx, which is bringing high-speed internet to town — told trustees last week his company is working to establish a new tower in Norwood.
His company has already run the conduit from Nucla to Norwood to make high-speed service possible. Currently, his crews are running the fiber through that conduit in order to activate the service.
Though the town should have high-speed and reliable service, those outside of the town limits may not, unless a new tower is built. Seacat said he’s been asked by the people of Wright’s Mesa to make broadband internet possible outside of town limits, too.
Seacat said, in order to have fast service, the new tower would need to be closer to the town. His company recently flew a drone to investigate possible locations, and he said the east side is likely the best spot.
He estimates the tower will be 60-feet tall; he’d establish an agreement with the town to operate it.
Trustee Kerry Welch asked Seacat if he couldn’t just use the existing cell tower the county permitted a few years ago.
Geodele Vanhille asked the same question. Vanhille said the existing tower was controversial when it was built. She said, at the time of its construction, promises were made that it would serve all institutions and all future needs.
“We are talking about another 80-foot tower,” she said. “Promises were made by the companies involved and not followed up with.”
Vanhille said she urged the town to consider using what is in place, so that only one tower serves Norwood.
Seacat said the existing tower was fairly far from the new fiber he’s laid. He said it would cost money to get the service there, and his company would have advantages in building its own tower. He said it was cheaper for him to build his own, rather than to lease the existing tower. He also said he preferred not to operate under another company’s regulations.
Trustee Candy Meehan asked if the new tower could possibly disrupt the internet of other institutions. Seacat admitted that was a possibility, but the Lone Cone Library is a customer of Clearnetworx, so he would be working with them.
Resident Jenny Russell told the board that any new construction would have to go through the town’s development process and wait until after the suspension on development is over.
When questioned about safety of 5G service, Seacat told The Norwood Post that the tower he is suggesting is a different service than the small “microcells” that some municipalities are putting into place, which are controversial.
He said those microcells are closer to people and buildings; his would remain 60-feet off the ground.
Meehan said the board should table the discussion on the proposed tower in light of the 60-day development suspension. She said that would also allow trustees to hear public opinion.
Russell reminded trustees, “If it’s in town limits, it’s subject to our regulations.”
She said that included the required variance by the Planning and Zoning Commission, as the structure is more than 35-feet tall.