Cleveland leaders oppose cell tower in historic area

Cleveland leaders oppose cell tower in historic area

October 26th, 2010 by Harrison Keely in News

Staff Photo by Harrison Keely/Chattanooga Times Free Press Matt Harris, a Nashville-based attorney representing Verizon, tries to convince Cleveland's city council that a controversial new tower is needed near the city's historic district.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The City Council is combating a proposed cellular tower meant to boost coverage in Cleveland's historic district.

The council decided Monday to send letters opposing the 80-foot monopole's suggested spot to the Tennessee Historical Commission and other regulatory authorities.

Representatives for Verizon, the company behind the tower, contend that the disputed site is essential.

"There is tremendous tension," said Matt Harris, a Nashville-based attorney representing Verizon, at Monday's City Council meeting. "We kind of lucked up, just to be honest, in even finding this property."

If the proposed site can't be used, Verizon would have to build three more towers in Cleveland just so a current tower could serve the historic district, he said.

Harris said the monopole won't ruin the district's view, adding that many "much more visible" obstructions already do that.

There are already eight towers and water tanks within about a mile of the district, not to mention some 80-foot power poles nearby, said Jim Duncan of Nashville-based Terracon.

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said those utilities soon may go underground, making Verizon's tower a sore thumb.

"We have too many organized groups in our community plus individuals who do not want it to be there," he said. "If it was at vote today, I would veto it."

Councilman Richard Banks said the proposed tower would be too close to the flight path of medical helicopters and also would be very near to floodway.

But the tower must be built to facilitate higher data usage, more cell phones replacing landlines in homes, and because Verizon's three existing towers in town already are "maxed out," Harris said.

The company's most recent Cleveland tower was built in 2005, he said. A new tower also would be able to accommodate two more carriers, he said.

Banks, however, said he believes Verizon has made "insufficient efforts" to locate alternative sites or locate on existing towers.

Contact Harrison at or 423-757-6504.