Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Side Streets: Some in Peregrine tired of towers, too

Bill Vogrin Published: February 12, 2014

Remember the dozens of wireless antenna towers going up in the Broadmoor neighborhood that I told you about in December?

Some folks were thrilled at the prospect of improved cellphone service, as well as Internet and data transmissions they will enjoy thanks to the new towers.

One reader, Jennifer Corr, wrote me on Facebook asking if she could volunteer her family home in the Broadmoor for a tower.

"My cell doesn't really work there," Corr wrote. "My cell is my emergency line for my company. Just worried."

Others were angry and complained at what they considered the sneaky way Houston-based Crown Castle International went about installing the antennas on existing streetlights and by erecting new towers.

Well there's good news for some critics of the poles. But the news isn't so good for others - especially residents of Peregrine, where wireless antenna poles also were erected.

In the Broadmoor area, Amy Tracy and some neighbors along Marland Road complained to the city after they saw Crown Castle crews digging a hole and preparing to erect a light and tower near their private, neighborhood-owned, 23-acre Pourtales Park.

She and others were upset that they were not notified a pole was being installed along their park where no streetlight existed before. They don't want a pole or light near the undeveloped park.

And residents were frustrated at the response they received when they called the city.

After the column was published, I heard from quite a few more Broadmoor residents as well as folks in Peregrine. They said Crown Castle did the same thing in their foothills neighborhood on Colorado Springs' northwest edge.

Reader Jim Sawyer was among the first to respond.

"The same thing happened in Peregrine two months ago," Sawyer said in an email. "Residents and the homeowners association complained to the city and the company installing the towers and were basically ignored."

Reader Courtney Tripp wrote me noting similar poles mysteriously appeared along Woodmen Road and other points within Peregrine.

"I've spoken with a few neighbors, and all agree they are unsightly, and many are worried about how it will affect property values negatively," Tripp said. "I've spoken with my homeowners association manager and he stated, like their experience in Broadmoor, no one in the association was notified, petitioned, consulted before installation of the towers."

I contacted two Crown Castle representatives several times recently, and neither responded to phone messages.

And I called Peter Wysocki, the city's director of planning and development, who intervened on behalf of neighbors to slow tower installation on Marland after learning no streetlight existed near the park.

Actually, Wysocki ordered Crown Castle to stop until each site was reviewed by staff and verified as an appropriate location.

He also acted as an intermediary between the company and the neighbors, facilitating meetings and negotiations about the pole planned for the park.

The good news for Broadmoor residents is that Crown Castle, after having crews at the site for days to run power and bury the necessary infrastructure for the parkside pole, abruptly agreed to consider a new location in the area.

"Crown Castle has agreed not to proceed with any additional work on the Pourtales Park pole until there are further discussions with the homeowners association and until HOA members have an opportunity to meet and consider it," Wysocki said.

But he stressed the city has no power to prevent the poles from going up because Crown Castle is considered a utility doing legal work within city right-of-way and in public utility easements.

Still, Tracy and her neighbors were happy to get a chance to talk with Crown Castle and perhaps persuade them to move the pole behind mature trees on the edge of the park and out of view.

"They are willing to work with the HOA and the neighbors," Tracy said. "We are very pleased they came back to us with solutions and that the city did get involved to bring this about."

Unfortunately, folks in Peregrine report they have not had offers to move Crown Castle wireless towers they say mar their park views.

Sawyer and the others are frustrated, especially by a tower erected near the top of Woodmen that blocks their view of Blodgett Peak.

"The people of Peregrine feel that they have been bamboozled," Sawyer said. "Basically, we appear to be screwed."

I'll be sure to ask Crown Castle, if they ever return my calls.

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Read my blog updates at blogs.gazette.com/sidestreets

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