Whiteside cell tower on the table

A public hearing over a controversial cell tower in the scenic Whiteside Cove area of Cashiers will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 14, at the Cashiers Glenville Recreation Center.

The proposed Verizon tower has riled up nearby residents, who have expressed concern over the impacts to the scenic landscape. Others have acknowledged the lack of decent cell coverage in the area and are willing to live with the blight of a tower, albeit begrudgingly.

Verizon made some  concessions to its tower design at the behest of Jackson County Planning Director Gerald Green — most notably making the tower look like a pine tree.

Since the Whiteside tower was first proposed, property owners have been writing to the Jackson planning board to express their concerns. 

“While I recognize the importance of improving cell phone service to Cashiers and nearby communities, I understand there are better solutions and alternatives to this site which Verizon could consider that would have less negative impact on property values of nearby owners and on the scenic landscape,” Ann McKee Austin, a Realtor in Cashiers, wrote this week.

More than three dozen comments have come in in advance of the public hearing.

Craig Pendergrast, whose property neighbors the proposed tower site, has urged the county to reject the 120-foot tower.

“Think of it as the equivalent of a 12-story building to consider just how out of place and intrusive the proposed tower would be,” he wrote.

Following the public hearing next week, the planning board will make its recommendation to the county commissioners, who hold the ultimate decision. Commissioners may attach conditions to the permit, or even disallow it. They’ll take information gathered during the public hearing into account when making a decision. 

— Jeremy Morrison, News Editor

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