Town Council right to approve cell tower

Hilton Head Plantation residents will gain more than they lose from construction of the controversial tower.

newsroom@islandpacket.comMay 21, 2014 

Let's face it. No one wants a cell tower in the backyard.

The towers are tall and unsightly. They interrupt the natural scenery that our area so prides itself on. And like water towers and telephone poles, you can't disguise them -- even if they're painted to look like a pine tree.

It is with this in mind that we sympathize with the handful of Hilton Head Plantation residents who have fought to prevent the rezoning of land within their community between White Tail Deer Lane and Dolphin Head Drive to allow the construction of a 149-foot Verizon Wireless tower.

The homeowners argued the tower would lower property values. They also questioned why it could not be built at nearby Dolphin Head Golf Course where it would affect fewer homes.

Two residents even filed appeals, challenging whether town staff should be allowed to rezone the property.

Ultimately, their efforts failed. Town Council recently gave preliminary approval to rezone the land. Tower construction will likely begin this summer, and it should be in service by fall.

This is as it should be. Cell towers are now a reality of modern living. While people don't like to look at them, they like spotty cell phone coverage even less. Dropped cell calls can also undercut property values.

The tower will initially improve service for Verizon customers. But, long term, as many as three other carriers could be added to the tower.

Ultimately, the tower will help more people than it hurts. Poor coverage has long been an issue for homeowners, according to plantation general manager Peter Kristian said.

"This will be an excellent fix," Kristian said, citing a homeowners' survey that said 83 percent of plantation residents favored the tower.

On the town's website, 397 out of 409 public comments favored it. Twelve opposed.

Of course, there's no way to gauge the validity of these surveys. But the margins are big enough to safely assume a majority see the tower as a win.

So look for a big pine tree rising in Hilton Head Plantation soon. The disguise is unlikely to be convincing -- but those clear calls should ease the sting.

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