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Denver's digital tower problem

The plan for the Lookout Mountain tower calls for the transmitting site to encompass 81 acres, eight of which will contain the tower and the 20,000-square-foot building to house transmitting equipment.

The Lookout Mountain television broadcast site was built near Denver, CO more than 50 years ago. Over those years, the area became attractive as prime residential property. While both broadcasters and local residents coexisted in relative harmony for many years, the need to build new transmission facilities to support DTV broke that long-lived accord in a big way.

When the Lookout Mountain residents learned about stations' plans to build new antennas, a severe case of NIMBY-itis (Not In My Back Yard) ran through the neighborhood. The primary issues between the broadcasters and their neighbors were quickly boiled down to three key factors: aesthetics, RF interference and the possibilities of health risks.

Not helping the issue was that Lookout Mountain broadcasters each had their own agenda. It took many months, according to some involved, for the broadcasters to get their collective house in order and begin cooperating on the project. They formed the Lake Cedar Group as a cooperative effort to joint forces and try to move the project forward.

At one time Lookout Mountain broadcasters considered Squaw Mountain as a possible alternative site. The broadcasters however preferred to remain on Lookout Mountain.

Several alternative sites were studied including Squaw Mountain, where one of Denver's television stations is located, but the Lookout Mountain broadcasters preferred to remain on Lookout Mountain.

In late July, the Jefferson County Commission unanimously approved the Lake Cedar Group's proposal to construct a new 730-foot tower. The tower will replace three existing towers, currently used for analog television on Lookout Mountain. Also, KTVD, a UPN affiliate, will move from its existing tower on nearby Mount Morrison to this new facility. After all analog operation ceases, the older towers will be removed.

The Jefferson County Commissioners are scheduled to formalize the decision on Aug. 19th.

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