The company that plans to build a cell tower near Santa is working with Benewah County officials to find another location for the tower.

Inland Cellular, a Lewiston company, planned to build the tower on the Pokey Creek Road but, several area residents protested the tower location and asked the county commissioners to intervene.

Commissioner Jack Buell said he spoke with company officials and discussed alternative locations.

“We had a very positive conversation about re-locating the tower. They were not negative at all. We offered to assist them in any way we could to move the tower,” Mr. Buell told several people attending the commissioner meeting Monday. “They are looking at alternatives and we will talk to them again.”

Mr. Buell said he was optimistic that the issue would be resolved. He said he would talk to representatives of the company again this week.

Amie Scheinost, one of the property owners who protested the proposed tower site, thanked the commissioners for their efforts.

Jeff Miller owns property in Emida, near the site where the Inland built a cell tower last year. He questioned what recourse he had now that the Emida tower was already completed.

“I’m wondering why that tower was put there? There was no letter to me and I am the one who owns all the property below it,” Mr. Miller said.

Mr. Miller said working with the company to re-locate the Pokey Creek tower does not help him.

“That doesn’t do anything for me, I’ve already bought another piece of land,” he said.

Some residents are concerned over health issues related to 5G networks. The service offered by Inland Cellular use 4G technology.

Ms. Scheinost said she and some of her neighbors originally asked the county to adopt zoning to prevent construction of towers where local residents object.

Mr. Buell said the commissioners are not considering adopting zoning. Zoning has been unpopular in the past, and he believes it remains unpopular.

“We will get through this,” Mr. Buell said. “We assured Inland that we are not against towers. They agreed to work with us before they do any more towers.”

Roads dominated the rest of the commissioners’ time Monday.

The county plans to recycle asphalt for repairs on the St. Maries River Road and the Cassandra Hills Road.

“The St. Maries River Road has serious, serious problems,” Mr. Buell said.

Commissioner Phil Lampert got a quote for rehabilitating a road, using recycled asphalt, at $20,000 for 1/10 of a mile. That cost is too high, but the county plans to use the asphalt it has stockpiled and do the repairs itself.

“They need to be fixed,” Commissioner Bob Short said.

In a related matter, the county agreed to a cost-share with the Idaho Department of Parks to repair the road to the Benewah Campground in Heyburn State Park.

The county owns the first half-mile of the 1.3 mile road. The county’s share of the repairs will be $6,686, not including the cost of the grader and roller the county will provide for the project.

Plans call for the county to pay for the project, which will be done this year, and have the parks department reimburse the county.

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