Company Wants to "Disguise" Cell-Phone Tower as 100-Foot Tree

That'll totally fool people!EXPAND
That'll totally fool people!
photo by Deirdra Funcheon

Eco-Site is a company that helps place cell-phone towers in high-demand areas. It's possible for the company to disguise the towers as trees — or other things that are arguably aesthetically pleasing, like clock towers. 

The company had been in discussions with the city of Miami Shores to put a tower in town limits, but when residents got wind of the idea, they started to organize against it due to its height. The tower would be situated at the corner of 104th Street and NE Second Avenue, where Eco-Site would lease a parking lot from a Lutheran church. But the city would still need permission from the village to install it. 

Lou Perez, who has lived in Miami Shores for 32 years, concedes that many people use cell phones and says his group is "not opposed to the technology; we're against the variance that would change height restrictions from 40 feet to 100 feet. It's zoned for 40 feet. They want 100. Once that door is open, anybody can come along [and build tall structures in the village.]"

Hope Calhoun, an attorney representing Eco-Site, said that essentially what the company does is, "They go into a municipality and propose a structure: 'We're interested in putting a tower in your city.' In this particular case, they did that."

She said the tree disguise had been shot down, though: "[We initially understood] that this monopine [tree] would be preferred. We have since been advised that the monopine is not preferred."

Calhoun says the company "can be flexible on what kind of pole we present.. a pole with nothing on it, a pole with a flag.  They can do something like a clock tower. Something that's not just a pole." She said that wild ideas like a giant dinosaur would probably be nixed and that a pole welcoming people to the village had likewise been floated but killed. Mused Calhoun: "What would make people comfortable? That dialog is just starting. We're still communicating with the city. I think it's fair to say that everyone understands that there is a need [for some sort of pole.]"  

She said that there had not yet been an opportunity for public comment but that the project is in early stages. "We submitted an application. It went through review. We never received comments. The information got out to the public." There have been only a few meetings with the city administration so far, she says. "Could be nothing. Could be 100 feet. Could be 60. We're hopeful." 

Eco-Site is paid by cell-phone companies to use the tower. Perez said documents show Eco-Site lists T-Mobile as a likely client for the tower. 

Neither Miami Shores Mayor Alice Burch nor Village Manager Tom Benton responded to repeated emails and calls for comment.


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