Sierra Club opposes AT&T cell phone tower near Afton State Parkby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A panel of Wisconsin and Minnesota Sierra Club members say they're hoping to stop a planned 150-feet tall cell phone tower from being built along the St. Croix River near Afton State Park.
AT&T has won preliminary township approval for the tower, according to Ron Carlson., conservation director for the Sierra Club's St. Croix Valley Interstate Group. He lives in nearby Lake St. Croix Beach.
"The tower will be visible from the St. Croix Scenic Byway, which runs past Afton Alps and Afton State Park," Wisconsin's Kinnickinnic State Park across the river, and other scenic areas in the region, he said. "It really is visually intrusive."
His group is part of the same coalition that has been opposing a freeway bridge replacement for the Stillwater Lift Bridge. Carlson says he'd like AT&T to consider a less obtrusive option, as county officials did for a radio tower in the area.
The news comes in the wake of a similar protest over an AT&T cell phone tower in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
A judge ruled earlier this month that AT&T can build a 199-feet high tower there, a shorter facility than the 450-feet tower the company was initially seeking.
The decision pleased the environmental group Friends of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the group that sued to get a smaller tower built.
Proponents of the tower up north highlighted the economic benefits of improved telecommunications in the Iron Range. They also cited additional safety for tourists searching for network access.
Washington County officials will weigh permits for the AT&T tower near Afton State Park next week.
Editor's note: The previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Dakota County officials would decide whether to grant the permit. The current version is correct.