Visionary’s 2021 wireless towers permitted

Cali O'Hare photo Visionary tower administrator Greg Greenough, far right, speaks to the Sublette County Commissioners at their Oct. 4 meeting about the four un-permitted towers installed by the company.

SUBLETTE COUNTY – In the rush to install and power up four wireless broadband towers around the county by the federal Dec. 31, 2021, deadline for CARES Act funding, Visionary Broadband officials never got around to requesting required permits.

Last month, the Sublette County Planning & Zoning Board asked why and how the conditional use permits were never sought, voicing concern that the company installed its towers without any public process.

The board recommended that Visionary’s permit fees be doubled to $150 each and did not offer a unanimous recommendation to the Board of Sublette County Commissioners at their Oct. 4 meeting.

Visionary said private landowners (including Sublette County School District No. 1 for the Bondurant Elementary School) signed contracts and received compensation.

Tuesday, commissioner Dave Stephens said he “very uncomfortable with how it was handled.”

“I’m not happy about it either,” said tower administrator Greg Greenough, calling it “an honest mistake” they wanted to correct.

Commissioner Doug Vickrey asked, “How could they all get put up without anyone knowing?”

Visionary owner Greg Worthen said the company “was trying to step up to the plate for communities with CARES’ money help.”

Commissioner Tom Noble thanked Visionary for its broadband push around the county. “We had nothing before you showed up.”

He moved to approve Visionary’s conditional use requests with $150 fee per tower and to leave the towers installed. Chair Joel Bousman, Noble and commissioner Sam White voted “aye” with Vickrey and Stephens “nay.”

“Would you prefer we have a motion to tear down the towers,” Bousman asked Stephens.

“No – too many people depend on them now,” Stephens replied..”

Bousman said, “I think we all disapprove of how it was handled

Visionary’s next request was for a CUP and height variance to extend a 30-foot tower to 50 feet for more coverage. Earlier the P&Z board had asked how many extra customers would benefit; Worthen said it could reach another hundred people. It was approved, 4-1, with Vickrey voting against it. Commissioners kept the condition that any further height request come before the P&Z board.

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