City approves cell tower construction behind Acanthus Lodge

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The Des Moines Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved a plan to construct a cellphone tower behind the Acanthus Lodge at 4133 Urbandale Avenue.

The approval comes with one condition – that the tower company make every effort to construct the tower not on the north end of the lodge parking lot, but to move it south right behind the building. City staff recommended the move so that the lodge building provides more of a visual screen for the equipment at the base of the tower, and to provide some distance from the playground at Holy Trinity School.

The seven-member Board of Adjustment voted 4-2 in favor of the application. One member was absent from the meeting. Board rules require four votes for approval.

A North Carolina tower company plans to build the 155-foot monopole tower and then lease space to T-Mobile, which says it needs better coverage in Beaverdale. Owners of Acanthus Lodge are leasing space to the tower company.

City staff told the board that comment cards were sent to neighbors in the immediate vicinity. Four came back opposed, one was supportive and two were undecided. Others did not respond.

Two neighbors told the board they opposed the tower because they say it’s an eyesore.

Des Moines attorney Chris Pose, representing the tower company, told the board the company had to find a willing landowner in the neighborhood and that the chosen site meets the city’s requirements for such towers. For instance, city code requires the tower be as far from a residential building as the tower is high.

Board member Justin Gross said, “It seems like the city is trying to balance the interests of all concerned. I have no problem approving it. It’s zoned mixed use. There’s a lot of commercial businesses in the area.”

Board chair Mel Pins said, “I understand where concerns come from but it’s a utility. Everyone wants cell coverage. Everyone wants the internet. It’s a commercial area. This is the best site in the area.”

Tower Co., the North Carolina company building the tower, said earlier it plans to start construction in June, with construction taking about 45 days.

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