© 2002Updated: 3/20/01


CARE position on Eldorado tower site

Over the last 12 years, there have been 3 proposals to rezone land on Lookout Mountain to allow construction of a large multi-user “Supertower.” Three different Boards of County Commissioners rejected those proposals, determining that tower/antenna development on Lookout is not compatible with the neighborhood or surrounding land uses.

Eldorado's one tower seen from Hwy 93

The District Court and Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed this decision 10 years ago, yet the broadcast industry came back again with another supertower proposal in 1998. The Jefferson County Commissioners again rejected Lookout as an appropriate site after 24 hours of hearings and testimony in July 1999. The broadcasters sued again, but have recognized the futility of their litigation and asked the Court to dismiss it.

In the most recent denial, in addition to again finding the incompatibility of broadcast uses with the neighborhood, the County Commissioners found that RF radiation emissions on Lookout exceeded County and FCC standards and that additional, higher powered antennae may cause further violations and that alternative sites are available.

View of open space from Eldorado

The broadcasters continue to exceed the radiation limits. Jefferson County has filed zoning violations against several broadcasters and the FCC issued notices of violation of radiation limits to the FM tenants, KCFR and KUVO, on the KRMA Channel 6 Public Television tower.

CARE is deeply concerned about and has an acute interest in the siting of high-power broadcast facilities in the foothills of Jefferson County. Large broadcast towers with multiple high-power antennas have far ranging impacts and effects, particularly when the antennas are at the same altitude as nearby residents. The siting of those facilities must take into account numerous considerations including: the proximity of the facility to residences and workplaces; the elevation of the facility in relation to surrounding topography, homes, businesses, schools, historic places, etc.; the compatibility of the facility to and with surrounding land uses; impacts on property values; the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood(s) and people living and working in proximity to the facility; aesthetic impacts; and environmental impacts.

Based on these considerations, Lookout Mountain and Mount Morrison are not suitable sites for the broadcast facilities existing at those locations, much less any additional facilities. Broadcast transmission facilities should be sited as far as possible from, and as high as possible above, places where people live.

With the exception of Squaw Mountain in Clear Creek County, Jefferson County is burdened with the majority of all towers for FM and TV for broadcast to the extended Denver Metro area. Even a Boulder TV station’s main antenna is south of I-70 on Mt. Morrison. If the foothills of Jefferson County are going to be the host to a new high power broadcast facility, subject to proper engineering, Eldorado appears to be the best alternative of any existing developed site in Jefferson County.

The ground elevation at the Eldorado Mountain site is 1,040 feet higher than the ground elevation of the Lookout Mountain site. The radiation from the Lookout and Mt. Morrison sites not only expose thousands of residents living at the same altitude as the radiation of the main broadcast beams, but also expose the one-half million annual visitors to Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum and 200,000 visitors to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center, Boettcher Mansion and Mother Cabrini’s Shrine.

The nearest residence to the Eldorado site is below the powerful horizontal main broadcast beams and located at the base of the mountain, about 1,700 feet below the site and over a mile from the antennas. The nearest “population cluster,” also located at the base of the mountain about a mile and a half from the site, and about 1,400 feet below the site, consists of just five residences. These factors should help insure that residents are not subjected to the “lighthouse beacon” beams (or rear “lobe” of “directional” antennas) of high-powered broadcast radiation that travels horizontally for great distances.

On Lookout Mountain, the broadcasters made the mistake of building towers on residentially platted lots after many homes were already here. Perhaps Pinnacle Tower’s proposal could lead to both a solution to the deployment of over-the-air digital television in Denver and the preservation of the remaining majority of the elevated area as a wildlife preserve or Open Space so that families in the future are not subjected to radiation exposure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Editor’s Note: The approved Squaw Mountain Communications tower site at 10,300 feet altitude, surrounded on three sides by national forest in Clear Creek County, is available for lease or sale to Denver broadcasters.

To read more information on the Eldorado location, click here.

Many documents and details are available at www.c-a-r-e.org.