Commission allows AT&T tower, with height change

Gale Rose

After weeks of discussion and a change of plans, the Pratt County Commissioners approved the construction of a communication tower just to the north and east of the Pratt Regional Airport.

The vote came during a special session of the Commission at their March 9 meeting.

The path is now clear for construction of the 200- foot AT&T tower that will improve reception in the area.

Originally, the Pratt County Planning and Zoning Board received a special application request from AT&T to construct a communication tower designed to be 260 feet tall. After consideration, the board denied the request because of safety concerns and sent a recommendation to deny construction of the tower to the Pratt County commissioners who have final say in the matter.

When the commissioners received the recommendation, they held a special hearing, open to the public, to discuss the matter. The commissioners had four options on the application. They could adopt the Planning and Zoning Board's recommendation to deny the application, they could override the recommendation and approve the application, they could return it to the board for further consideration or they could table the item.

At the special hearing, several area pilots shared their concerns about the location and height of the proposed tower saying it would create a safety risk for aircraft using the airport.

The pilots said they had no objection to construction of the tower and favored improving communication. It was the height and location that were the issue. Several pilots asked if the location of the tower could be changed so it would not be a flight risk for pilots.

Glenda Cafer, legal counsel for AT&T, said she would take all the concerns about the tower back to AT&T and return with more information.

The commissioners voted to table the item to allow Cafer time to get with AT&T on the matter and see what changes, if any, AT&T was willing or capable of making.

After meeting with AT&T and then holding a meeting with airport representatives, Cafer returned to the commissioners on Monday, March 9 with news that AT&T would not move the tower but they would be willing to cut the tower height to 200 feet, which met the county regulations.

A group of pilots and a representative of the Pratt Regional Airport Board were on hand for the second hearing and a couple shared their concerns on the matter.

After reviewing the matter again, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve a 200-foot tower on the original site. This cleared the way for construction of the tower.

A legal document on the decision is scheduled to be published in the Pratt Tribune.

Anyone wishing to file a petition against the decision will have 30 days after the document is published.