Mailen Tower off Concord Road may have branches like an evergreen tree, but in reality, it is a 160-foot cell tower.
Jared Ledet, chief operating officer for Branch Communica-tions, the developer of the tower, said the artificial branches resulted from a Farragut Municipal Planning Commission stipulation.
“The only way that tower would be approved was on the condition that it be stealthed as a mono-pine, as you see it standing today” Ledet said.
Mark Shipley, Farragut Community Development director, said FMPC looked at different stealthing applications but felt the artificial branches were the best fit for that property.
“There’s existing pine trees on the property and … some of the other stealth applications in that context, I guess [FMPC] felt like would look like they were out of place,” he said.
Ledet said opinions about preferred appearance of cell towers could vary.
“It’s always a fine balance, and the balance of this is in each of the eyes of the beholder,” Ledet said.
“One may look at that and say ‘that looks absolutely as an eyesore,’” he said. He said some people might wonder where the giant tree came from since it stands above the tree line. He said other people might have preferred a traditional monopole.
“As you drive down highways and interstates, your eyes become accustomed to utility poles and tall freestanding light pole structures. I mean, there are light pole standards in this Town that are as tall as this structure … We within the wireless industry world feel that this is one and the same,” he said. Still, he said FMPC felt the monopine best suited the location.
“It’s becoming the most common installation practice in the state of Tennessee, from a stealthing standpoint,” he said.
Ledet said Mailen Tower would serve T-Mobile customers along Turkey Creek Road and east of Concord Road.
“This specific location was targeted by T-Mobile as a critical area where they needed to expand their coverage capabilities,” he said.
“As the wireless industry has evolved and we have been forced to get closer and closer to residential neighborhoods … the most dominant concern has always been the aesthetics and the appearance of the structures,” he said.
Ledet said Branch Communi-cations was about 90 percent finished with the project as of Thursday May 26.
He said workers were now cleaning up the access road, installing the fence to protect equipment and putting in any landscaping requirements around the facility.