Residents sound off, small cell tower dies

With input from 11 concerned residents, many from the Herron Road area, Farragut Municipal Planning Commission denied a site plan application for a small cell tower, determining it to be incomplete, during its regular meeting Thursday, June 20.

MasTec/AT&T Mobility had submitted site plans initially for three separate small cell towers, two to be placed in different locales along Parkside Drive, and a third off Herron Road along a residential right-of-way.

The applicant, listed by name as Kevin Youngblood of MasTec, was a no-show before FMPC.

Residents spoke out against the application, and several remarked about the applicant’s failure to appear.

“I think it’s pretty indicative of what you can expect (from the applicant) in the future,” said Laura Fangman, who also remarked that the $5,000 bond to be required from the applicant “is grossly insufficientî to cover any damage or repairs that might ensue.”

Elaine Jackson and Patrick Hayes both noted detrimental health issues that might occur.

“It will be a detriment to our health,” Jackson said.

“My husband is already disabled, and we don’t need more (chance of that). We don’t want any more damage to our neighborhood. “There are studies about the bad effects of lower-level radioactivity,” Hayes. said. “If any of you can get this as far away from a residential community as you can, it would be a good thing.”

Joe and Melissa Martin, who live along Herron Road, own the property where the tower is planned, and spoke against approval. A utility pole currently exists within the right of way on their property, and the cell tower as proposed would be perpendicular to that existing pole.

“The application is incomplete,” Joe Martin began. “We are (along) Herron, but the address states it would be on 633 Herron. There is no 633.”

“Our property value will be impacted, and there are health concerns,” he continued, then added three other times their property had been impacted by outside influences. “They cut my driveway to put in a sewer line for JCPenney,” he said. “They also put in a new pole and a new (electrical) box. I am the one who had to go in and fix it, every time, and I have concerns about that as well.”

Melissa Martin reiterated the address issue and said she was concerned she didn’t know about the proposed tower sooner. She concluded by asking the commission “to please consider not putting this in my front yard.”

”I have kept up for years with the placement of cell towers,” Carol Christofferson said. “And I don’t want a cell tower where it doesn’t have to be when there are so many other places it could go.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to deny the application based on it being incomplete.

Mark Shipley, Farragut Community Development director, said he would report back to FMPC after communicating with the applicant on any next steps to be taken.

He did tell the Commission that fairly recent state and federal law supersedes Town ordinances, and the cell phone industry “is a constantly evolving arena. The Commission can’t just say ‘no.’ It has to provide reasons, and we have to provide for this. “We can’t treat them differently than any other utilities.”