Owner of Old Lake House Wants 174-Foot Telecom Tower, Triggering Controversy Over Placement

Owner of Old Lake House Wants 174-Foot Telecom Tower, Triggering Controversy Over Placement

The former Lake House restaurant property has a new owner who is seeking to construct a telecommunications tower next to the building that overlooks Lake Mitchell.

After purchasing the property, Cully Evers is in the process of securing all the permits needed to build a 174-foot telecommunications tower next to the former restaurant. The tower would allow cell phone carriers and wireless network companies to install equipment on it, which would expand services in the north side of Mitchell.

“It’s just a communication tower. It’s a pure speculation tower. I don’t have any vendors or carriers going on it at the moment,” Evers said of the tower during the April Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. “I just purchased this property, so I thought it would be a nice addition to it.”

The proposed height and location of the tower sparked opposition from a neighboring property owner, Paul Koch, who echoed his concerns that the tower could destroy future nearby buildings he plans to construct if it were to fall.

Still, after discussing the project details and Koch’s concerns of the location of the tower, the Mitchell Planning Commission unanimously approved the conditional use permit and height variance for the telecommunications tower. The Mitchell City Council will ultimately decide whether to approve the variance and conditional use permit at its upcoming meeting.

Plans show the tower is proposed to be constructed on the southeast corner of the property, which is adjacent to the land Koch says he is planning to develop in the near future.

“We build to that side, and I’ve got a tower that can be able to fall onto buildings. I don’t want anything at all in that corner,” said Koch, who owns a four-plex housing unit situated to the east of the property and has plans to build more housing. “We plan on improving those properties and starting to move north toward the city’s land.”

Koch indicated he would be “all in” for the project if Evers switched the location of the tower in such a way that’s not within the “range of buildings.”

Evers works in the telecommunications construction field and spoke to the design of the proposed tower. He’s also helped build similar towers in Mitchell.

“It’s a freestanding tower that will have three legs. It stays within its footprint,” he said.

Commission Chairman Jay Larson emphasized that the variance and conditional use permit approvals aren’t associated with the location of the tower. The Planning Commission will decide whether to approve the location of the tower at a future meeting when Evers submits his project plan application.

A question from the Planning Commission surfaced during discussions of Evers’ height variance application, asking Evers why he’s eyeing to extend the height of the tower to more than 170 feet? In response, Evers said it would allow him to add another carrier.

Evers said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the construction of the tower when it was proposed to have a height of 159 feet.

Since Evers is seeking to extend the height of the telecommunications tower to 174 feet, the FAA will have to approve the proposed height extension for the tower to be built.

The three-legged tower would resemble the telecommunications tower near Mitchell Technical College, which Evers built. However, the tower at the local college on the south side of Mitchell stands 100 feet tall, Mitchell City Planner Mark Jenniges said.

The city’s zoning codes require a variance for structures in the highway business district that will have a height over 100 feet. That’s why Evers is required to secure a variance for his proposed tower near Lake Mitchell.

Evers did not detail the future development plans he has for the rest of the property, which includes a vacant restaurant building. However, he said there are plans to further develop the property in the future.

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