LOGAN — Two rural property owners talked to the Harrison County Board of Supervisors at their regular meeting Nov. 8 about a series of five utility permit applications that were approved by the Board and specifically one approved back in September.
Their specific complaint was regarding the installation of two separate 100 foot poles within the county right-of-way. (That is within roughly six feet of the two’s property boundaries. Their land is located north and east of Woodbine near Spokane Ave.)
The utility poles are owned by Windstream Communications for the purpose of wireless communications.
There are currently five such poles being installed in five separate locations spaced approximate five miles apart in a rough circular pattern around Woodbine by contractors of Windstream Communications.
Those locations are near the following streets: Easton Trail, Panora Avenue, Spokane Avenue, Toledo Avenue and Redwood Avenue, according to a map provided to the Board.
The County Engineer’s Office has been told by Windstream’s subcontractor that they are installing hundreds of these towers across the Midwest.
The property owners asked who and why permission had been given to Windstream to install the poles in the public right-of-way near their properties and stated that the utility contractor trespassed onto their private property while making the installations.
The two gentlemen were informed that County Engineer Steve Struble had reviewed the applications to verify that the requested structures did not present an obstruction to drainage or clear zone (for vehicle recovery) in the right-of-way, infringe in sight triangles, limit possible future widening of entrances, or present other obvious hazards.
Again, Struble and that the Board of Supervisors approved the routine permit application at a Board meeting in September that the two property owners were referring to.
The property owners were told that trespassing onto private property is prohibited by terms of the county permit without permission of the land owner. And if they wanted to take a course of action, it would have to be a civil complaint between the landowner and contractor to recover damages.
The property owners also asked whether the Board could deny the issuance of a permit, and Struble stated that Iowa Section 480A states that if the county was to reject an application to locate a utility in the right-of-way, the utility company has the right to appeal to the local entity’s governing body, which, in this case may be the Iowa Utilities Commission.
And that the Code allows for either District Court or Judgment by Arbitration.
Struble and the Board informed the property owners that Windstream is certified as a public utility service provider by the Iowa Utility Commission and that the request is very routine except for the height of the poles.
The property owners requested that all property owners be notified of future installations by utilities, but were informed that the due to the number of permits and routine nature of most utility installations makes, that would be impractical and not necessary in almost all cases.
Struble stated that he would review and investigate the issues related to these installations.
He echoed the property owners’ frustrations over attempts to contact Windstream with their concerns.
Struble reported that he visited with the county zoning administrator, Matt Pitt, about the possibility of a change in zoning to prevent towers over a certain height from being installed in the public right-of-way and was told that control through zoning is not a viable option.
In other news, the Board approved a handwritten warrant to U.S. Bank in the amount of $4,348.36.