New cell tower proposed in Townsend

TOWNSEND, Tenn. (WVLT) Spotty cell phone reception could be a thing of the past in Townsend, just outside The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Verizon Wirless wants to keep up with demand in area by adding tower nearby.

Nearby residents are split on the idea.

They say that Townsend is the quieter side of the smokies.

"When our kids were really young we would tube down the river," Steve Toole said. "We saw these houses along the river, and said man one day we would love to have a place on the river and it worked out."

That was more than 10 years ago for Toole and his family, but as the world changes so does the need to be connected.

"The reception has been pretty poor if you're inside you may, or may not get a call," Toole said. "You can not get on the internet inside, you have to come outside and even then its pretty spotty."

There's just not enough signal to meet demand, especially in summer with thousands of tourists in town.

"Everybody relies on a cellphone now, and its very important to get somebody if you need them," Toole said.

Verizon wants to build a 199-foot tall "monopole" cell phone tower at 7927 Carnes Road along the river in Townsend. The tower would sit back several hundred yards from the road, behind several lines of trees.

Some neighbors say it doesn't belong there, and worry about the views. Others aren't too worried about the tower and welcome it.

"You can't see it at night and during the day time there's so many other things to look at," Toole said. "It doesn't really draw my attention it doesn't look out of place."

He says there's already a few towers around, and people are still flocking to Townsend.

"I don't think a cell towers going to help or hurt tourism at all," Toole said "I don't think someones going to see a cell tower and say oh lets get out of here."

The tower has yet to be approved. It is on the agenda for the Blount County Board of Zoning Appeals on March 5. The meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. at the Blount County Courthouse in Maryville. The public is invited to share their opinions during the meeting.

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