published Monday, October 18th, 2010

Neighborhood jolted by cell tower proposal

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The potential construction of a Verizon cellular tower on land between Cleveland’s historic district and the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway is riling nearby residents.

“I am extremely opposed to it,” Judy Chandler, who lives three blocks from the proposed site, said Thursday. “It would be very detrimental to the historic district and the historic homes in the area.”

Chandler, who also serves on the greenway’s board, said the 80-foot tall proposed tower at 699 17th Street NW will ruin the walkway’s atmosphere.

“People go to the greenway to relax and enjoy the outdoors, not to look at cell towers,” she said.

Tucker Duncan, who lives next to the tower’s proposed site, said Thursday that there are better places it could be built.

“I get great coverage from Verizon,” he said. “I don’t know why they need to put a cell phone tower here.”

Legal notices in Cleveland’s daily newspaper have invited public comment on the proposed tower, City Councilman Richard Banks said. He brought up the tower at the Oct. 11 City Council meeting.

The Federal Communications Commission requires public notice if a cell tower is going to affect a historic area, he said.

Philip F. Head, a lawyer at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP in Nashville, wrote in an Oct. 11 letter to City Manager Janice Casteel that Verizon was not aware the tower was on the City Council’s agenda until the morning of the meeting.

He requested that discussion be deferred until a Verizon representative can attend the next meeting.

“Verizon agrees to take no action on this matter until it has had an opportunity to meet with any and all interested persons,” Head wrote.

He did not return multiple calls seeking comment last week.

Verizon spokeswoman Karen Schulz said the company is “very, very early” in the process of placing a tower.

“We need to increase capacity there to meet the growing demand of the residents of Cleveland,” she said.

The plot’s owner, John. R. Eldredge, said his land will not be sold, despite the legal ad .

“I have no comment on that because there were some misconceptions in the article that ran in the newspaper,” he said, but declined to elaborate.

Banks said he thinks Eldredge will let Verizon lease the property.

“I haven’t had one person call me in favor of this tower at this location,” Banks said. “If someone in favor of the tower wants to call my cell phone, the number is 595-4239.”

Greg Thomas, Cleveland’s director of community development, said towers are allowed in commercially zoned district, including the proposed site. But he said the site is only 2.13 acres, almost too small for one.

“It may or may not be allowed,” Thomas said. “It’s up to the city to issue a permit if the tower meets zoning requirements and building code.”

So far, he said, no one has applied for a license.

Thomas said he is gathering information on cell tower regulation, including how to determine when new towers are needed, to report at the next council meeting.

about Harrison Keely...

Harrison Keely is a web producer for the Times Free Press. He manages social media for the paper and anchors the daily Times Free Press newscast. He joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press as a reporter in 2010. He previously served as managing editor of the Smoky Mountain Sentinel in western North Carolina and as a business reporter for the Washington Times in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Lee University in 2009 where he served ...

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