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Wednesday, 02 September 2009 14:27

Cell company dashes hopes new tower will mimic pine tree

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A new cell phone tower has been proposed on the south-facing side of Utah Mountain above Lake Junaluska.

It would bring cell phone service to the dead zone on Dellwood Road (U.S. 19) when driving between Lake Junaluska and Maggie Valley. Cellco Partnership would construct the tower on behalf of Verizon Wireless.

The tower would be 130 feet tall, falling within the maximum height allowed by the county’s cell tower ordinance. However, the tower does not meet setback requirements under the ordinance. The county requires a fall zone to be half of the tower’s height with a 25-foot setback from the property line.

Kris Boyd, planning director for Haywood County, said Cellco is now negotiating with an adjoining property owner to get an easement and would then come to the county for a variance.

“We asked for the variance so we would not have to take down any more trees, do any more clearing and grading,” said Buddy Young, director of residential services at Lake Junaluska.

Lake Junaluska Assembly is leasing a parcel of land to Cellco for the tower. Young said the property is already accessible by road and no grading would be necessary.

According to Young, the proposed cell phone tower would be camouflaged as a tree. County documents indicate likewise, describing the tower as a “Monopine” design that would look like a pine tree. However, a spokeswoman from Verizon Wireless said it would not look like a pine tree but would only be a regular cell tower. Young said the property contract with Cellco states that the tower will be a “Monopine.”

The tower would be located on Sleepy Hollow Drive. Young said the adjacent property owner has been kept well-informed about the project from the start. According to Young, he is “a bit disappointed” with the plans but has agreed not to contest the building of the tower.

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