HJ/EDMarch 13, 2006

Communication tower to be built near Winsted

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

The location of a proposed tower one mile northeast of Winsted, to be constructed by Midwest Wireless Communications, became final Wednesday.

The tower will be constructed on property owned by Mary and Tim Purcell, located in the northeast area of Winsted Township.

After a year-long process, closing was conducted Wednesday, and construction of the tower is scheduled to begin by the end of this month.

The estimated completion date of the tower should be within two or three months of its start date.

Deciding where to place the communication tower began in February 2005. A real estate broker working for Midwest Real Estate Services was asked to approach property owners in the area of Winsted showing low/poor communication coverage.

The Purcells were actually his second stop because the first property owner he spoke with did not have the required number of acres for a tower of this size.

After many questions, phone calls, and meetings, an option to lease between Midwest and the Purcells was approved Feb 8, 2005.

Midwest then began a lengthy checklist to approve the Purcell property for the tower.

The property title was researched, and a survey was conducted. A sample of soil borings was sent for estimating the kind of foundation the tower would need.

From there, Tri-Lease Environmental Services was called in to check for hazardous material, for any negative impact to wildlife or wetlands, and an archeologist checked for Native American artifacts.

Existing tower considered

Any area tower within a close vicinity of the proposed tower needed to be considered. The 175-foot-high Winsted water tower was initially looked at as able to support the Midwest communication system.

Because of a prior extension agreement with McLeod-Wright and McLeod-Carver county borders, the water tower option was rejected because it would not provide adequate coverage to Midwest’s Federal Communication Commisision (FCC) licensed market boundary.

Garrett Lysiak, engineer at Owl Engineering & EMC Test Labs in Shoreview, submitted an engineering report Jan. 20, of this year, stating, “The unique problem with this proposal is that if the Winsted water tower is used, it will not provide adequate coverage and if the power level is adjusted to achieve the coverage, it would violate FCC regulations for adjacent system interference.”

A Midwest engineer also felt that the use of the water tower would require power and antenna changes that would, “eliminate our in-building coverage within the new housing developments to the north and east of town. With the tower located northeast of town, on the Purcell property, in-building coverage becomes possible throughout the entire town because the site can transmit at full power and not be as encumbered by FCC borders.

Providing in-building coverage to the entire town, including the area of new housing growth, is a major objective for this new site in order to meet the community’s ever growing needs.”

Approval was given to Midwest from the Federal Aviation Administration and it did not require any marking or lighting of the tower.

A search was performed using the FCC frequency database to determine the frequency and location of any city or county public safety facilities within one mile from the proposed tower location.

The results of the study indicated that no interference products are predicted to be generated that would cause interference to any of the identified protected frequencies.

Radio frequency radiation analysis

Owl used data submitted by Midwest Wireless, a “worst-case” radiation analysis, to determine the amount of radio frequency energy that would be present at the base of the tower.

In making the calculations, it was assumed that all of the radio frequency energy generated by the facility would be directed downward. It is not the real situation since the antennas used by Personal Communication Systems are designed to radiate towards the horizon, according to the engineering firm.

However, using this analysis method, they were able to determine that the maximum level of radio frequency radiation reaching the ground at the tower base is less than 15 percent of the American National Standard Institute’s standard value and, as such, is not classified as a radio frequency radiation hazard.

County grants permit

Midwest Wireless Vice President of Engineering and Technology Brian Fingerson said that the normal time for the approval process of a communication tower is 12 to 18 months.

Almost one year after the entire process began, McLeod County granted Midwest Wireless Communications a conditional use permit Feb. 7, to construct a 195-foot communication tower on the property owned by the Purcells.

The only stipulation is that the tower is to be a monopole-type construction.

When Mary Purcell was asked if she would have agreed to start the entire process if she would have known the amount of time and work that would be needed to get approval of the tower, she said, “It has been an extremely long, educational process, but I am excited to be able to have better communication coverage in our area.

”Absolutely everyone with Midwest Wireless and McLeod County have been a joy to work with.”

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