Details on cellphone tower planned for Acanthus Lodge

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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Update on April 20, 2024:

City staff has recommended approval of construction of a cellphone tower behind the Acanthus Lodge on Urbandale Avenue.  Staff also recommended relocating the site of the tower closer to the lodge building.

The issue comes before the city Board of Adjustment on Wednesday, April 24, 2024 in a meeting starting at 1:00 pm at the Municipal Service Center, 1551 East Martin Luther King Parkway.

The original planned site was on the north side of the lodge parking lot, adjacent to Holy Trinity School. Staff now recommends moving the proposed site as close as possible to the rear of the lodge building.

According to a city document, "Staff recommends that the 50-foot by 50-foot (2,500 square feet) leased area, including tower, be shifted southerly on the property to located as close to the existing lodge building as possible, to the satisfaction of the City’s Planning Administrator. This would minimize the visibility of the tower and shift the tower further from the parking lots and playground to the north."

Earlier coverage from April 11, 2024:

About 20 Beaverdale residents heard details Wednesday evening, April 10th, about a proposed cellphone tower to be built behind the Acanthus Lodge at 4133 Urbandale Avenue.

Attorney Chris Pose meets with Beaverdale residents at Acanthus Lodge on 4-11-24

Chris Pose, an attorney with the Des Moines law firm Lillis O'Malley told neighbors the tower is planned for land leased from the Acanthus Lodge. It will be a "monopole" with a height of 155 feet. An enclosed area at the foot of the tower will be 50 x 50 feet and will be enclosed with a wood fence at least eight feet tall.

Pose represents a North Carolina company, TowerCo, that has leased the land from Acanthus Lodge. TowerCo will then lease space on the tower to T-Mobile, which wants to increase signal strenght for its customers in Beaverdale.

Pose told the neighbors that city code requires the tower to be distanced from any residential buildings at least as far as the tower is high. There is no similar setback requirement for businesses. The proposed site is at the back of the parking lot behind the lodge.

A representative from TowerCo said construction is planned to begin in June and the project should be completed within 45 days.

A similar tower about a half-mile north, located behind the VFW state office at 3601 Beaver Avenue is full with three cellphone carriers and it cannot hold anymore. Although T-Mobile is planning to locate on the new tower, there would be room for two more cell providers. Pose said the law requires cellphone operators "co-locate" as much as possible to avoid construcdtion of even more cellphone towers.

Neighbors asked questions about what happens if Acanthus Lodge closes, and would the tower make it more difficult to sell the property for commercial development. Dave Beard, a trustee with Acanthus Lodge, said "We plan to be here a long time." Referring to the revenue gained from leasing space for the tower, Beard said, "This is a way to keep our doors open."

Other neighbor questions included what other sites were considered for the tower, how the tower might impact the carnival during Beaverdale Fall Festival, how high the fence surrounding the equipment will be, could the tower be camouflaged as something else that isn't so industrial looking, and what the process is to gain city approval for construction.

One resident addressed what he called "the elephant in the room" - that Beaverdale is one of the best neighborhoods in the city and that the proposed cellphone tower will be a "giant eyesore" in the heart of Beaverdale.

Pose said all required documents have been filed with the city. The project is scheduled for a hearing before the Des Moines Zoning Board of Adjustment on April 24th.

After the meeting, Pose went out to the proposed construction area to meet with Nick Aceto of the Beaverdale Fall Festival to discuss how to lessen any impact on carnival rides set up in the area. The electric junction box is where vendors and carnival ride operators plug in for power. 

Attorney Chris Pose and Nick Aceto of the Fall Festival look over where the cell tower is proposed 

Pose said he would get back to audience members with answers to some of their questions.


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