UPDATE – New Cingular Wireless (AT&T) Small Cell Facilities and Towers

UPDATE rec’d 12/30/2019:  This is the 3rd submittal for this project.  The updated Review deadline is 5:00 pm on January 13, 2020.

We have posted about small cell towers popping up in Denver neighborhoods after reading and learning about these towers from this article from Denverite: https://denverite.com/2017/11/01/denver-cell-poles/

Our initial posts didn’t elicit much response, other than some folks looking forward to better reception but now we have one tower located in the right of way next to Christ Church United Methodist, adjacent to the light pole at the intersection of 7th & Colorado Blvd and this week, June 24, 2019, our Association received a second notice of plans to install two more small cell towers in our neighborhood from Public Works Engineering Regulatory & Analytics.

The locations are:

1)                  CHCRK_012; 4362 E 1st Ave; 30’  Included in the first two submittals but removed in the 3rd (and current)

2)                  CHCRK_014; 4305 E 4th Ave; 30’

They appear to be on the north side of Graland, across from Cranmer Park, and the south side of Hill/Steck, across from Bellaire St.  At 30’ tall, they would not exceed the maximum allowable height of a house.  They would be located in the public right-of-way.

The public may enter written comment, and all comments are evaluated as to whether valid to placement of the encroachment at the specific proposed location.   General discontent or disapproval however is not considered as a valid denial, as all sites have been pre screened by Public Works as meeting placement rules before even being submitted for review. Please note that this project plan review opportunity is for BOTH a Utility Plan Review AND Encroachment Permit Review for proposed cellular antenna poles and associated wiring/ equipment within the Public Right of Way of the City and County of Denver.

The public may access the project files and submit review comments by selecting the corresponding project (2019-ENCROACHMENT-0000083_2ND) at the Denver Public Works E-Review Web Page.


As an addendum regarding these towers, why they are not co-located on utility poles and why there are no public hearings, a neighbor who is well versed in this industry shared the following information with our Assn last year when the matter of the small cell towers emerged:

“Regarding the cell towers, Xcel actually does have agreements with most of the carriers for “facility attachments”, but the problem with attaching directly to their poles in the city is that if they are wood or steel, they will not structurally hold the antennas and would have to be switched out for another pole. There is the issue of clearance from the electric wires that are on the Xcel poles. The antennas are required to be a specific distance from the wires on the poles and that generally means instead of getting 30-feet they would get 15 or 20. Of course this depends on the height of the tower, but the drive for the carriers is to provide more specific coverage at lower heights such as 30-40 feet. 

Maintenance can be an issue for the carriers, too, since Xcel doesn’t allow anyone to work on their poles. They would have to perform the maintenance for the carriers.   As far as public input, since these are stealth or more concealed towers sites that aren’t higher than 35-feet, it is an over the counter approval and there are no hearings or public meetings. Only the big ones have hearings anymore. The zoning regs would have to be changed.”


Addendum #2

This information came from a Congress Park resident who posted it in their RNO Newsletter.  It contains information on how to protest a small cell tower siting using the City’s guidelines regarding proximity to a tree.

A neighbors guide to cell towers in Congress Park

Hi neighbors!  If you are concerned about a proposed 5G cell tower near you, our personal experience with Verizon may be helpful.  Verizon proposed a mini cell tower at the corner of our home.  We live in a duplex, and Verizon sent a letter only to our duplex neighbor.  Their policy is that they only notify the directly adjacent property owners (unless the proposed tower is within 5 ft. of a property line).  We viewed the City’s guidelines (copied below) for these mini cell towers and realized that the proposed tower was within 15 ft. of a tree.  The tree happened to be planted by the City, so we contacted Public Works (email [email protected] and they will put you in touch with the right person).  Public Works gave us this link, where you can find all associated 5G mini cell tower project documents on their E-Review website: https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/right-of-way-services/engineering-regulatory-analytics/engineering-plan-review/electronic-review.html

On this website, you will need to review the project documents for the specific tower application near you.  It is unclear which folder to click on because the applications are processed in batches.  You can find which folder to look through by contacting Public Works and giving them the address of the proposed cell tower.  Look at the project documents to see if there is a conflict with the City’s Guidelines or another error.  The project documents include referral comments from applicable City Departments and construction plans and drawings (i.e., they send the applications to all the City Departments who have some input on the issue and they make comments).  

For us, we identified who the City Forester was who reviewed the application, and contacted that person directly to let them know that there was a tree within 15 ft. of the proposed tower.  We realized that the plans/photos of homes Verizon and Public Works are using to do permitting were at least two years old.  

There are two reviews–an initial review and then a final review.  The City Forester has indicated that the site needs to be moved and this is being taken into account in the final review.  

The take-away:  

1.  Trees make a difference.

2.  It is important to follow-up with Public Works if you notice any violation of the City’s Guidelines (copied below).  

3.  Be in communication with the neighbors who are directly adjacent to the proposed tower, because they are the only ones receiving communication from Verizon.  


All proposed Freestanding Small Cell Infrastructure shall be located:

A) in no manner or location that obstructs, impedes, or hinders the usual pedestrian or vehicular travel, affects public safety, obstructs the legal access to or use of the public right-of-way, violates applicable law, violates or conflicts with public ROW design standards, specifications, or design district requirements, violates the federal Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, or in any way creates a risk to public health, safety, or welfare, and;

B) to comply with the current version of the City and County of Denver Small Cell Infrastructure Design Guidelines, and;

C) preferably closest to the corner of two intersecting streets (outside of Signal Equipment clear zones), within alleyways where feasible, or closest to the common side yard property line between adjacent adjoining properties, and;

D) so as not to be located between the perpendicular extension of the primary street-facing wall plane of any single or two-family residential structure and the adjacent street centerline, and;

E) so as not to be located within two hundred fifty feet (250’) from any other Freestanding Small Cell Infrastructure (not including Xcel Energy locations), and;

F) so as not to be located along the frontage of properties designated as Federal, State or Local Historic Landmarks unless otherwise approved by the City and County of Denver, and;

G) so as not to be located along the frontage of City public Parklands (not including Xcel Energy Locations) unless otherwise approved by the City and County of Denver, and;

H) so as not to be located in a manner that otherwise obstructs an adjacent property from reasonably accessing ROW in a manner consistent with the purpose or designated access of said adjacent property, and;

I) so as to not significantly create a new obstruction to primary and inherently valuable sightline(s) of an adjacent property, (for example, if proposed equipment is located between the front living room windows of a residence and a mountain view plane, or directly between an outdoor restaurant dining area and adjacent parkland), and;

J) preferably within the street amenity zone and generally in alignment with existing street trees or utility/ street light poles, if present, and so that no part of proposed foundation is within 1.5 feet from the back of street curb, and;

K) generally placed equidistant between street trees, with a minimum separation of 15 feet (or beyond mature drip line, whichever dimension is greater) from center of tree to pole so that no proposed disturbance is within the critical root zone of any tree, and;

L) no closer than 5 feet from any low-pressure natural gas line, or 15 feet from any intermediate or high-pressure natural gas line, as can be required by Xcel Energy.


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