October 23, 2014

Appeals Court Reverses Decision on AT&T Tower Near BWCA

By KBJR News 1

June 18, 2012 Updated Jun 18, 2012 at 6:35 PM CDT

Minneapolis, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -- A new cell phone tower will be going up near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, after all. Monday the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed a previous ruling by a Hennepin County judge.

LeAnn Wallace reports.

Whether you like it or not, making a cell phone call will soon be easier near the BWCA.

Some argued that the proposed 450 foot cell phone tower would take away from the scenic beauty of the BWCA.

A three–judge panel weighed the decision by a Hennepin County judge back in August of 2011 who ruled that construction of AT&T's proposed tower would violate the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act.

The Court of Appeals reversed that decision, saying that the judge erred in his conclusion that the cell phone tower would have a "materially adverse effect on the environment."

The panel ruled that the judge did not properly review how the tower would affect the scenic views in the BWCA.

The environmental group, Friends of the Boundary Waters had previously proposed a much smaller Tower, that'd stand 199–feet in the air, as a compromise.

The group's executive director says the news is not surprising but it is disappointing.

"We proved in court that it would be seen from several lakes well within the wilderness up to 10 miles away and so the wilderness experience relies on not being able to see those signs of man. You know, that's where the wonder comes in, that's where the humility of having a wilderness experience comes from," said Paul Danicic.

Some who have been on board with the construction of the new tower say having a means to communicate is a matter of safety.

Temporary towers had to be set up while fire fighters were battling the Pagami Creek fire last year.

AT&T will now reportedly replace the smaller tower, which just recently became operational with the new tower, without interrupting cell phone service.


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