© 2004 Updated: 9/24/04


April, 2003

Commissioners Lawrence & Sheehan approve Mount Morrison Tower

Since 1995, Mt. Morrison antenna tower property owner Bear Creek Development has leased tower space to television channels 14, 23, 59 and 63 without permission on a short tower approved for cable microwave relay in 1981. JeffCo filed suit against BCD for adding broadcast antennas without permission. A proposal for two towers was denied in 1998. JeffCo litigation was dropped for BCD to reapply in 2001. The existing effective radiated power of KIMN-FM and TV Channels 14 and 20, 23, 59, 63 on two Mt. Morrison towers is 11,500,000 watts. The proposed rezoning would built out at 20 million watts.

The 40-acre Mount Morrison site is assessed at $315,800 and provides $8,003 in annual real estate property taxes. Denver attorney Marti Allbright proposed two Public Interest Communications (KRMA-TV, KUVO & KVOD FM) options for adding DTV on Mt. Morrison—one 300-foot high tower Option A or an unpainted spider web of towers below 200 feet on the east face of the mountain Option B.

Public relations professional Ken Smith conducted a successful letter-to-the-editor campaign and indoctrination that no other antenna tower site existed for supporters of “Catholic Television” Channel 23 and PBS programming on Channel Six. A dozen media employees testified for approval of the Mount Morrison and future Lake Cedar Group rezoning proposed for Lookout Mountain.

The JeffCo Planning Commission recommended denial on October 9, 2002. At the first County Commissioner hearing on December 16, BCD consulting engineer Jay Jacobsmeyer declared Mount Morrison as the best antenna tower site for analog and digital TV and FM radio antennas and limitless numbers of microwave and two way antennas. He claimed the 14,000 square foot industrial building would not be visible. Jacobsmeyer said reception from alternative site on Squaw Mountain would not reach 100,000 viewers in the Denver metro area of 3 million. He also claimed multipathing problems that were denied by engineers who conducted an estensive study of DTV signals from Squaw Mountain throughout the metro area.

Canyon Area Residents for the Environment attorney Deb Carney and other homeowner associations and organizations representing a total of 12,000 citizens provided power-point presentations recommending denial (county required word Against):

CARE - Deborah Carney; Cody Park - Al Hislop; Bear Creek Area Citizens - Ron Darling; Genesee Crossing - Steve Close; Genesee Foundation - Wayne Matthai; Genesee Reservation - Ron Selstad; Idledale Neighborhood Assoc. - Bob Smith; E. Grapevine NA (Idledale) - Linda Hogan; Lookout Mountain Crest - Dave Vennitti; Mount Vernon Country Club - Jan Wilkins; Panorama Estates - Scott Coors; Paradise Hills - Don D’Antuono; Riva Chase - Scott Albertson; Plan JeffCo - Ann Bonnell; Towne of Morrison - Kevan Uhes

On December 16 and 19, 2002 and January 7, 2003, organizations and individuals opposed the rezoning for following reasons:

  • Alternative sites are available. It is not necessary to threaten the health, safety and welfare of foothills residents or adversely effect historic sites. Broadcast antennas adequately cover the metro area from tall buildings in downtown Denver and higher altitude sites in Clear Creek County.
  • JeffCo zoning violations on Mount Morrison and Lookout Mountain have not been enforced for the past seven years. The existing PIC tower adjacent to the Boettcher Mansion on Lookout has exceeded radiation limits since 1992. KIMN-FM on Mt. Morrison has exceeded radiation limits since 1997.
  • Mountain Backdrop. JeffCo taxpayers have paid $50 million to preserve the Mountain Backdrop for the entire metro area. The visual and aethetic impact of antenna towers, noisy generators, massive industrial buildings and flammable fuel storage are not compatible with open space parks and preserved historic sites.
  • RF interference. Media corporations and federal agencies do not protect adjacent property owners from adverse effects of RF interference with electronic equipment. Adjacent property owners are forced to finance mitigation of RF radiation. The proposal is for fewer towers and more radiation. Once a tower is permitted, local control ends.
  • Health concerns are local responsibility. EPA, FDA and FCC do not protect the public. Interference occurs with signal strength of .5 microwatts per centimeter squared, a tiny fraction of the limit allowed in the U.S. JeffCo has refused to establish more stringent standards than industry lobbyists have gained in Washington.
  • Non-conforming land use should be brought into conformity as quickly as possible. Ignoring zoning ordinances belittles government and depresses property values. Foothills antenna towers are not compatible with the Central Mountains Community Plan and Jefferson County Telecommunications Land Use Plan which citizens gave thousands of hours to develop.
  • Jefferson County’s greatest asset is pristine residential areas. Tax revenues could decrease from lower real estate values impacted by antenna towers. According to the Jefferson Economic Council, the population within five miles of the towers is 55,789. JeffCo residents need high-tek corporate offices in the foothills protected from adverse effects from RF interference.
  • Historic Red Rocks Amphitheatre enjoyed by 350,000 concert goers annually and guests at the new $20 million visitors center should be protected from visual and electronic intereference.

Scott Coors, son of Bill Coors, has been concerned about constant increase of RF from antennas allowed by Jefferson County since 1967 when he began living on Lookout Mountain. He asked, “Am I at fault for growing up there?”

Steve Close, 14-year volunteer firefighter, presented safety concerns of a majority (25) of active Foothills Fire Department volunteers (including the Fire Chief) who signed a petition claiming that the road is too steep and switchback too sharp for standard fire trucks. Firefighters are also concerned that the best wildfire truck acquired to serve areas like Cody Park and Moss Rock has been moved to Idledale to serve the Mount Morrison tower site.

Retired business executive Wayne Matthai of the Genesee Foundation board said, “Preservation of our Natural Resources is what we teach our children… The visual resources of JeffCo are spectacular. There is no compelling reason to counter the future open space parks land, home values, future business in the Rooney Valley and health concerns of citizens.”

Electrical engineer Al Hislop presented facts about alternative sites. “There are two DTV antennas now operating on the plains in Longmont and downtown Denver. Some operate on Castle Rock. We were surprised to receive signals from low power antennas on Squaw Mountain and the plains as well as high powered FOX DTV on Lookout Mountain.” Hislop also reported that Cabrini Shrine and Mountsfield Avenue on Lookout Mountain would experience more interference from the proposed “directional” antenna patterns. He also said that of 509 DTV antennas now broadcasting nationwide, 168 are new spectrum assignments by the FCC.

Jan Wilkins is deeply concerned about protecting and preserving the Mountain Backdrop open space land. “The public private initiative by the City of Denver, private land owners and Jefferson County must be honored… Beyond the visual degredation, noise from generators and compressors will exceed the residential limit of 30 decibals to an industrial standard of 80 decibals… No benefit has been demonstrated for industrializing open space.”

Electrical engineer Dave Venitti has been recording RF radiation at hundreds of locations in Mount Vernon Canyon, Golden and Red Rocks Park. “Homeowner electronic devices are more vulnerable to interference causing central Jefferson County to be a dead zone for wireless devices. Businesses will be forced to relocate.

Ron Selsted, a real estate appraiser and broker, lives in the Genesee Reservation (originally platted in 1924) at the same elevation as the antenna towers. “Telcom towers are a Class 5 detrimental condition in determining real estate value. Removing the legal nonconforming land use would raise the real estate values more than the values would decrease from adding more. You won’t find any home buyer saying Gee, I love those towers. I want a house near those towers!”

Paradise Hills resident and attorney Don D’Antuono stated that the applicant must prove that no alternative site exists as required by JeffCo Zoning Resolution Section 15 2b. “You denied towers for this Mount Morrison applicant in 1998, the Lake Cedar Group’s Supertower in 1999 and the Eldorado tower in 2001. Squaw Mountain is a viable, alternative, approved tower site in Clear Creek County.”

Riva Chase attorney Scott Albertson reminded the County Commissioners that the so-called “replacement tower” is in illegal use. “Bear Creek Development has been collecting rent for unpermitted uses since 1995. This proposal is to expand the use of towers that provide no benefit to Jefferson County. This Board of County Commissioners has established a legacy of protecting the mountain backdrop from incompatible uses. Please continue a legacy you can be proud of as our elected representatives.”

Bob Smith of Idledale said, “The tactics of proposing Option B is a sham… The greatest good for the largest number of people in the Denver metro area is to preserve and protect the Mountain Backdrop. Our state Representative John Witwer and State Senator Joan Fitz-Gerald support that preservation and protection.” Idledale’s published poet and Chipewa Indian resident Linda Hogan said “All of my ancestors are behind me to protect the wildlife in this corridor.”

Commission Chair Michelle Lawrence opening the December 19, 2002 hearing with a lecture on how to behave at public hearings. Live and videotaped testimony of media employees supported the towers : Greg Dobbs, Marnae Sheffeld, Win Churchill, Scott Hutchings, Mark Buchanan, James Riddle, Ernie Santella, Pat Stanley, David Maloney and Fred Keller among others.

Architect Andy Beck questioned building lights, bridges, roads, truck turnarounds, grading, generators, outbuildings, fences, storage tanks, landscaping, and future expansion with satellite dishes, transmission devices on the roofs. “It is important to keep in mind that a 200 foot long building is one side of an acre. A 14,000 square foot building cannot blend with a natural mountain.”

Cepresenting Plan Jeffco, the organization that established and continues to watchdog JeffCo Open Space, Ann Bonnell testified “the real choice is not between tower A or B, but between a tower or no tower at all. The Open Space land must be preserved and protected.”

Ron Darling represented 250 residents of homes that border Bear Creek Park who are appauled that the county has allowed the land owner to collect rent from antenna clients never permitted to operate on the short tower now proposed to be replaced. “JeffCo would not allow citizens to do that.”

Janet Marks wonders if the county spent $2 million to preserved the land surrounding the peak of Mount Morrison to provide a “buffer zone to antenna towers.” Loraine Knickel said she has observed the political legacies of antenna towers as a resident of Lookout Mountain and Genesee for 42 years. “While our state department of highways removed billboards to beautify our state, JeffCo allowed more ugly towers on Mount Morrison and Lookout.”

Squaw Mountain Communications representatives were rushed by Commissioner Lawrence through their 3-minute time slots. Tom Baron gave a Santa hat to Commissioner Sheehan (which gained plenty of laugher) and attempted to clarify midleading statements by the applicant’s engineer Jay Jacobsmeyer. He presented a 1700-page report of DTV testing throughout the Denver metro area and invited Catholic Television (channel 23) to move to his site. SMC marketing director Victoria West explained that all broadcast sites need boosters in shadow areas in mountain terrain. “Real world reception is very different than the applicant’s computer simulations.” SMC engineer Tim Cutforth endorsed the testimony of Baron and West.

Genesee resident Colin Barton (now CARE President) is concerned about “permitting profit at the expense of the community and natural beauty.” As a Lookout Mountain resident for 32 years, Guenter Grothe has observed more and more antennas added against zoning laws. He recently compiled a report of citizen expenses from $200 to $20,000 for mitigating their homes against the trespass of RF radiation.

Colorado native Jim Vickery (family arrived in 1851) is an astronomer who has lived on Lookout for 40 years. He said many businesses have had to relocate from the area to escape RF interference. Commissioner Sheehan asked for more details.

An owner of the Snow Leopard retail shop in Bergen Park, Laura Sampson, is a 30-year volunteer at Channel Six. She was one of many who testified in support of PBS programming and helped convince the Canyon Courier to endorse “Plan B.” Many other citizens testified to keep Catholic Television channel 23 and Spanish speaking Telemundo channels 63 & 67 on Mount Morrison.

The public communication exchange of BCD attorney Marti Albright and Commissioner Lawrence indicated a close friendship. Lawrence wanted to disregard the JeffCo requirement for tower applicants to prove that no “alternative site” could accomodate their proposals. She interrupted opposition technical consultants often but allowed supporting citizens to exceed the testimony time limit.

Commissioner Sheehan did not understand that analog TV reception is vulnerable to ghosting but Digital TV reception is an “all or nothing at all” technology. Commissioner Holloway was concerned that PBS stations 6 and 12 had tower sights. Knowing that Channel 12 analog and digital antennas now operate effectively from the peak of Squaw Mountain in U.S. Forest, Commissioner Holloway voted to deny the application.

Extremely complex and conditional approval of Commissioners Sheehan and Lawrence was completed by March 11. CARE has notified Jefferson County that the approval is illegal because there was no 21-day notice for proposal changes that received no public comment and alternative antenna tower sites are available.

November 2002

JeffCo Plan Com recommends denial of Mount Morrison towers

Satellite and cable television is the best long-term carrier of television signals, but broadcasters want to take advantage of $70 billion of free over-the-air digital spectrum.

Genesee resident Wayne Matthai says, “They want to spend all this money to build the best propeller plane. Cable is the best platform for TV, internet, and interactive electronic communication. ”

Another factor surfaced at the hearings. Citizens are expected to bear the expense of protection from electromagnetic interference from broadcast antennas. JeffCo Telcom consultant James Hart admitted, “The FCC has no authority or interest in protecting citizens from RF interference… electronic equipment is not protected… citizens must protect themselves.” Local land use decisions are the only protection.

Also, the Planning Commission was not convinced that Squaw Mountain is not a viable alternative. County Commissioner hearings are scheduled for December, 2002 and January, 2003.

June 2002

Mount Morrison Tower Proposal

After holding two community meetings at the Boettcher Mansion on Lookout Mountain in 2001, Public Interest Communications (KRMA-TV, KUVO & KVOD FM) responded by creating two options for adding DTV on Mt. Morrison.

Denver attorney Marti Allbright, public relations professional Ken Smith and PBS affiliate Channel 6 have conducted a vigorous letter-writing campaign in support of JeffCo approval.

Since 1997, Mt. Morrison tower property owner Bear Creek Development clients have operated high-power television antennas on a short tower approved for cable microwave relay in the 1960s.

A proposal for two towers was denied in 1998. JeffCo filed suit against BCD for adding broadcast antennas without permission. The litigation was dropped for BCD to reapply.

The existing effected radiated power from KIMN-FM and TV Channels 14, 20, 23, 59, 63 on Mt. Morrison is 12,600,000 watts (12.6 megawatts). National Historic Registered public sites within three miles are Red Rocks Park, Amphitheater & Trading Post, the Morrison Historic District, Mt. Vernon House (north of Matthews/Winters Park), Rooney Ranch (a Colorado Centennial Farm), Bear Creek Canyon Scenic Drive and Starbuck Park in Idledale. The “Hogback” land formation is a designated Colorado Natural Area and Dinosaur Ridge is a National Landmark.

The 40-acre Mount Morrison tower site is assessed at $315,800 and provides JeffCo with $8,003 in annual property taxes.

Facts about Planned Development tower permits

    Once approved, JeffCo has no control of antenna patterns, RF interference, or number of interference-causing devices on towers and buildings

    Directional means anything less than 360 degrees. Directional patterns produce a rear lobe similar to a backfire from firing a gun

    TOWERS are not the problem. High power broadcast ANTENNAS cause interference and threaten health, safety and property valuesAdding DTV in the Foothills would produce a tech-research, business communications and office/home networking deadzone within an 8-mile radius

    No Jefferson County citizen, business or research organization needs to be sacrificed. The public broadcast stations can apply for FCC permits to operate at a safe alternative siteKRMA-Channel 6 is an applicant for both proposals. The Channel 6 tower, adjacent to the historic Boettcher Mansion, has exceeded 1992 public radiation limits since public radio stations KUVO and KCFR (now KVOD) were added in the 1980s. After citizen measurements were verified by the FCC, the FM stations “turned down their power.” There is no threat of broadcast license or tower removal by the FCC or Jefferson County.

The Channel 6 Public Relations promotion of this proposed Planned Development is at www.mtmorrisontower.org.