Top of the Ridge

Martha Berry, Ridgecrest, Sherwood Forest – Knoxville TN

   May 29

“Fountain City neighbors oppose cell tower” by MJ Slaby

The view from porches in Fountain City is wooded and scenic, but a cellphone tower could soon be added to that view.

A 150-foot monopole telecommunication tower — a single, vertical pole — owned by Branch Towers LLC and used for T-Mobile coverage, as well as a paved access road, is proposed for the northwest side of Ridgecrest Drive, east of Hollyhock Lane in Fountain City.

After postponing the vote from the May meeting, the Metropolitan Planning Commission is scheduled to vote June 11 whether to approve that site for the tower.

But neighbors are joining together to show opposition and plan to attend the meeting to voice their concerns. “Why are they choosing a neighborhood?” asked Jaime Norris, a neighbor. “We’re all totally against it.”

Along with impeding the view, Norris said adding a cell tower could decrease property values and lower resale opportunities. Roughly 120 current and former residents have signed and paper petitions opposing the tower.

Norris and others have also urged neighbors to contact MPC commissioners, join a Martha Berry-Ridgecrest CommunityAction Network Facebook page and attend the MPC meeting.

“Don’t just be upset about it, take action,” said neighbor Carrera Romanini. “My perception is we’re a pretty passionate group.”

Mark Wilson, T-Mobile national external affairs manager, said the site was chosen to solve coverage issues where there have been customer complaints. And he said that’s typically in residential areas where people use their cellphones for calls and data as well as in emergencies.

MPC Commissioner Michael Kane said the commissioners have received emails and calls from neighbors who are concerned about property values and resale. Those are the same concerns that have arisen with cell towers in neighborhoods before, Kane said.

Although it’s always the first choice to use an existing tower or structure, there was nothing tall enough in this case, Wilson said.

He added that the monopole is not the typical cell tower and is the “least visibly obtrusive” option.

Kane said the commissioners will use the materials presented to them from both sides to see if the tower will meet guidelines. One of those guidelines Kane expects commissioners to key in on is seeing if an existing tower is available to use instead of building a new tower.

And neighbors are hopeful for a solution that won’t ruin their scenic view.

“We picked this neighborhood for a reason,” Norris said. (more…)