East Brainerd community walks away from cell tower meeting upset, confused
UPDATE (July 9th):
The planning commission has voted to deny plans to build a cell tower in the Hurricane Creek area of Chattanooga.
UPDATE (July 6th):
A controversial cell phone tower takes a step forward to becoming a reality.
On Thursday, we learned the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission's staff recommended the tower be built in the Hurricane Creek area. The staff makes recommendations on projects before the commission takes it up for a vote.
The staff says the tower would improve service for first responders. They also recommend no trees or land be demolished to build the tower outside of the lease area.
The planning commission has not set a date for a vote.
Depend on us to keep you posted.
Residents in the Hurricane Creek subdivision felt like their questions went unanswered when it came to learning more about a cell tower development in their backyards.
County Commissioner Sabrena Smedley planned Monday night's meeting. She represents the East Brainerd area and told a crowd at Christ United Methodist Church that she heard about the concerns regarding a cell tower being built and wanted the developer to hold an informational meeting with the public.
No one in the room seemed to support the idea of a 150-foot cell tower built in the Hurricane Creek subdivision. Contractors say companies, like Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint, would be able to lease the tower. Neighbors expected to hear from representatives from Verizon, but instead, they heard from representatives of the contractor, Vogue Towers. They are the name on the application for a special permit to build.
Residents hoped they could still get their questions answered, like why they've selected the Hurricane Creek neighborhood.
"We have determined that area will offer the optimal coverage for the target market," said Vicky Farmer, an independent contractor and site solicitor for Vogue. She continued to explain that Verizon found several "dead coverage spots" along Brainerd road and the location they are looking at would cover them.
The audience went in uproar as the representatives struggled to answer who exactly chose the Hurricane Creek area as the ideal site.
"I wasn't the one that selected the property," said Farmer. She declined our reporters for comment and deferred further questions to Vogue Towers' lawyer Kurt Faires. He stood alongside Farmer during the meeting, trying to answering questions from the public.
Farmer explained Verizon is responsible for picking the area in East Brainerd to install a tower. Then a contractor is responsible for finding the specific property to build. When asked who that contractor was:
"I would say that was our site selection zoning person," he said, referring to Farmer. We asked Faires to address why Farmer told the audience she was not the one who chose the property.
"We got bogged down on that one," he replied. "We get the demands from the capacity carriers. That was confusing the way she did and I understand the confusion."
The application is already in the hands of the Regional Planning Agency. They make sure that the application meets all the criteria to develop. They will make a recommendation to the county's planning committee, who will review the application. That's when members of the public can make their input and voice any concerns they have. Afterward, the application will be reviewed by the county commission, who will also hear from the public. The county commission will be responsible for making the final decision.