‘Stealth’ towers sought

Can you use the words “stealth” and “colocation” in a sentence with “cell tower?”

These terms were thrown around a lot Thursday night, March 16, at the Farra-gut Municipal Planning Commission meeting. Why? Because the town is creating an ordinance, with the help of expert Larry Perry and town attorney Tom Hale, in order to regulate telecommunications towers and support equipment installation.

“Stealth” means disguising a cell tower to make it more attractive. “Co-location” means having cell antennas of more than one wireless service provider at a single location.

“Without stealth technology, colocation can look pretty crappy,” said Mark Shipley, Town’s Community Development director, as he projected images of stealth towers on the boardroom screen.

Methods to disguise towers include fake branches, concealment wrap that reflects the sky and hiding poles within existing structure.

The town of Farragut has two stealth towers that look like tall pine trees — one along Fretz Road and one along Virtue Road. The tower along Concord Road is on private property.

“Currently we don’t allow cell towers on property that’s residential,” Shipley said, but later added, “You can’t totally prohibit them in residential [areas]. ... Theoretically, towers can go in residential property if [cell companies such as Zayo, which is currently working with the Town] can demonstrate a need.”

Shipley said Farragut could end up with towers in residential areas and posed the question to other members on the towers’ maximum height. He said he thinks a pole must be 90 feet tall to enable colocation, but would do research to confirm that number.

“I’m perfectly fine proposing 75 feet maximum in residential,” he added.

“I’d rather have one 90-foot [pole] rather than two 70-foot [poles]” FMPC member Rose Ann Kile said.

“I don’t think we’ll get a lot of towers in the Town,” Shipley said, “but what I think we’ll see a lot of are cell support structures.”

Shipley showed images of small cell equipment on top of buildings, but said in Farragut it would have to be hidden behind a parapet. He said three light poles in Turkey Creek are earmarked to become small cell support units.

Shipley promised to research height requirements for cell towers to have colocation ability.