Cell tower that looks like tree axed by commission | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Cell tower that looks like tree axed by commission

Greyson Howard / Sierra Sun
Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun

The Truckee Planning Commission on May 14 denied a 115-foot-tall cell phone tower disguised as a tree.

The planning commission still has to adopt the resolution to deny the cell tower June 11, but town officials said the decision has been made to bar the fake tree from the Prosser Lake Heights area.

“The commission already voted 5-0 in favor of denial; now they just have to sign it,” said Dennis Troy, assistant planner for the town.

The decision means the applicant, T-Mobile, won’t be able to propose a similar project for six months, Troy said.

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The planning commission’s decision reflected many of the project’s neighbor’s concerns.

Troy said the planning commission decided the applicant didn’t prove there weren’t better locations or shared opportunities, Troy said, which is a requirement of town policy.

“They didn’t show due diligence,” Troy said.

Commissioners also discussed the tower’s potential effects on surrounding neighbors, Troy said, who expressed concerns over visual impacts and reduced property values.

“There was quite a public presence,” Troy said. “About six to eight adjacent property owners spoke against it at the meeting.”

The applicants will have 10 days to appeal the decision after June 11, Troy said.

The proposal called for a 115-foot cell phone tree tower, with the top 85 feet resembling a tree through the use of faux branches and greenery.

While the town felt confident about the aesthetics of the new tower, officials conceded that previous fake trees hadn’t been as successful.

“When the one above Safeway came in, it was a steep learning curve,” Troy said in an interview before the commission’s meeting.

Town Planner Duane Hall said that tower was the town’s first.

“We as a town did not do a good job comparing it to its surroundings,” Hall said of the blue-green tower installed around 2001.

But since then, fake trees have gotten better, and the town has gotten better at making sure they blend in, Troy said.

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