A St. Charles board has voted to oppose possible plans to place a 250-foot emergency communication tower at the northwest corner of North Third Street and Adams Street, near the St. Charles County Corrections facility.
The tower is one of 12 that St. Charles County is putting in across the region to upgrade emergency communications for first responders as mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The improvements will create a single, unified system for law enforcement, fire, ambulance and public works communications would help to eliminate the gaps in service from a patchwork of systems.
A 1/4-cent sales tax was approved by St. Charles County voters in 2009 to fund the changes. Originally, the FCC mandated the changes for Jan. 1, 2013, but St. Charles County was given an extension to Jan. 1, 2014.
Jennifer George, director of policy for St. Charles County, said the county-owned parking lot is a back up location.
The county is in negotiations with two other property owners to try to acquire property to cover downtown St. Charles.
"It's a back up to a back up so we've gone ahead and started the filings," she said, adding that the process can take awhile.
The proposed lattice tower in St. Charles would would have a shelter and a base that would be about 100 feet by 100 feet, George said.
The existing emergency communications tower located nearby on the County Corrections facility would come down, she said.
St. Charles residents have raised concerns that the communications tower would negatively impact the historic neighborhood.
Lauren Buddemeyer, who lives at 327 Clark Street, spoke out against the tower during the Landmarks Board meeting out of concern that it's too close to houses and could potentially fall over in a tornado.
"We urge you in the strongest possible terms to do whatever you can to stop this tower from being built in this location," she said.
Members of the city's Landmarks Board plan to submit a letter of concern.
"To have a 250-foot tower ... in one of the most historical areas in the state of Missouri and not to have a full review and consideration given to sticking that miserable thing up there would be certainly neglectful on our part," Board member Tom Kuypers said.
Brenda Rubach, St. Charles city planner, said the tower could possibly have an affect on properties on the National Historic Registry, which in St. Charles includes historic Main Street, Frenchtown and the Dr. Stumberg house. Three other areas are under consideration for addition to the National Historic Registry.
It's possible the issue will go before the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which can make a recommendation, but cannot prevent the tower from being built, Rubach said.
Resident Leann Starr said the tower would be an eyesore. "We do need to protect what is our greatest asset here," she said. "This is what we have that brings the tourists, it brings historians."
Bruce Evans, Community Development Director for the city of St. Charles, said there is no way for the city to restrict St. Charles County from building the tower since the property is in unincorporated St. Charles County.
How to Comment
Community members who wish to comment on the impact the tower will have on the environment are directed to file a "Request for Environmental Review" with the FCC by Feb. 23. The filing number is A0822233. More info on that here.
Comments about the impact this will have on the historic area should be directed to GSS, Inc., 3311 109th Street, Urbandale, IA, 50322 or call (515) 331-2103.
Choosing Tower Locations
St. Charles County contracted with Motorola Solutions to locate tower sites and build the new system of emergency communications towers.
Motorola has identified 12 locations across St. Charles County that will help to provide clear and reliable coverage as well as the capacity for multiple users at any one time. Sixty possible sites were originally analyzed for potential coverage, construction and commercial viability and environmental impacts.
A video on the St. Charles County administration website explains the factors under consideration for the placement of the towers.
"Until we have a finalized system for the entire county we don’t essentially consider any of the sites completely completely final," George said. "Obviously the sites we have purchased or are already county-owned property, we are beginning the process of starting work on those sites."
Some of the sites will be on County-owned properties currently already used for law enforcement or for equipment storage:
- The St. Charles County Sheriff's Office, 101 Sheriff Dierker Court in O'Fallon (345 ft. tower)
- The St. Charles County Highway Shed at 2550 Bethman Road in St. Charles
- The St. Charles County Highway Shed at 2480 St. Peters Howell Road in St. Peters (400 ft. tower)
- A site at 7301 S. Hwy. 94 that is planned for a highway shed.
Two St. Charles County parks have also been proposed as sites. Indian Camp Creek Park on Dietrich Road off of Hwy. 61 north of Wentzville is a developed park.
The other is the site of a future park on South Point Prairie Road in Wentzville. That site was partially donated by Patricia Barnard and her late husband Robert. According to a Jan. 27 story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Bernard is disappointed with this use of the land. City Councilman Joe Brazil opposes the use of the Bernard Park property, as well as another proposed tower location in Augusta.
St. Charles County purchased a property at 975 Meyer Road in Wentzville after negotiations to place a tower on the city's Law Enforcement Center property fell through. A 330 ft. tower is planned for that location.