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Wireless company wants to build cell tower disguised as tree in Lynchburg

By Tim Saunders, tsaunders@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jul 31 2013 05:23:02 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 31 2013 11:50:24 PM EDT

The tower would be built on city-owned land, behind Perrymont Elementary School

LYNCHBURG, Va. -

We see them in the middle of pastures, on the side of buildings, and along busy highways.

Cell phone towers are hard to miss, but you may not notice the one that's about to go up in Lynchburg - and that's the point.

Milestone Communications wants to build a 135-foot tower near Perrymont Avenue that's disguised to look like an evergreen tree.

WDBJ7 visited the neighborhood Wednesday to show residents a picture of what the tower could look like.

"It's better than a horribly grotesque metal one, but I feel like it's still going to stick out and be really tall," said Robert Guckien, who lives on Perrymont Avenue.
"I wasn't expecting it to look like a tree," said Byron Thulin, a resident who worries the new tower will add traffic to the neighborhood from cell phone technicians visiting the site.

"It looks like it blends in with most of the trees and everything," said Bruce Evans. "Doesn't look like it will stand out."

"I'm just fascinated that it could look like that," said Lisa Seal. "It's pretty cool."

The project could benefit Lynchburg financially.

Milestone wants to build the tower on city-owned land, behind Perrymont Elementary School. City government would get a cut of the profits.

"I think it's a good thing at no expense to the city," said Deputy City Manager Bonnie Svrcek, who adds that Milestone isn't the only one wanting to build one of these towers in Lynchburg.

"Outside providers are starting to see the city as a destination, and a place where our demographics and growth patterns require better connectivity," Svrcek said.

Lynchburg leaders are thinking about allowing other city-owned properties to be used for cell phone towers. A franchise agreement is in the works that would allow Milestone Communications to market other spots as tower sites.

City council still needs to approve the Perrymont tower, before it can be built. A public hearing on the project will be held August 13.