Council approves 1st filing of zoning change for new SMU water, communications towers

Council approves 1st filing of zoning change for new SMU water, communications towers

Spencer Municipal Utilities plans to build a new water tower to replace the current damaged one on the south end of town.

Going up near it would be a separate communications tower. The current water tower, 1310 Second Avenue SE, has a communications antenna on top of it.

For that to happen, though, SMU needs a zoning district change from A Residential to C2 Highway Commercial. The Spencer City Council started that process Monday night by approving the first of three filings of the zoning change.

SMU General Manager and CEO Steve Pick explained to the council why the new tower is needed.

“An ice event happened and we developed a leak in March of 2018,” Pick said. “When the tank was drained we had two or thre different engineer companies come in and do an analysis of the structural integrity of the tank. The bowl has been bent and damaged beyond repair – or it could be repaired, but it would probably cost as much as a brand new tank.”

Pick said Verizon and T-Mobile have antennas on the south water tank.

The council held a public hearing before voting. Spencer resident Pete Paulsen asked a couple of questions, though he noted he was not against or for the towers.

Paulsen wanted to know why a water tower was built in a residential district and how tall the new communications tower would be.

City Manager Amanda Mack answered that water towers are allowed in residential districts, but the communications towers are not.

“So they could replace the water tower without any zoning changes,” she said. “The zoning change really allows for the communications tower to be put up separately next to it instead of on it.”

Pick said the communications tower would be 190 feet tall. He did not have the water tower height available.

SMU is working on the replacement planning process.

“We’ve been working through that process with our engineering firm, as well as our insurance carrier,” Pick said. “We anticipate a bid award in early July and a new tank construction beginning this fall and completing this spring.”

The council approved the zoning change 5-0. Ward 1 Councilman Tom Nelson and At Large Councilman Rich Prentice were absent.

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