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Whitefish considers cell tower near downtown

Published On: Oct 12 2012 06:22:11 PM MDT
WHITEFISH, Mont. -

Whitefish residents may soon have to sacrifice beauty for a few more bars of service on their cell phones. Verizon Wireless is asking for a conditional use permit to install a 100-foot cell phone tower north of downtown on Woodland Place. One resident says Whitefish needs to catch up with the times.

"Everybody needs communications," said Tim Kane, "especially in this state because there is not much compared to the rest of the nation and I think it should be done."

Plans for other towers near Depot Park and the middle school roof have been thrown out in the past due to aesthetic and safety concerns. Another tower currently exists on top of Lion Mountain, but that barely covers the demand of smartphone users.

"In a wired economy everyone uses their phones more and more," said Planning and Building Director Dave Taylor, "certainly something that's important for the infrastructure of any community."

The large tower would reach wireless customers on Big Mountain and improve 4G connectivity. Planning officials say Verizon will attempt to hide the tower by having it resemble a pine tree.

"Adjacent trees I don't think are taller than 60-70 feet, so it will definitely stick up above that," Taylor explained.

Some residents just want the tower to already be in place, no matter what it looks like - "I see towers around me on this railroad that we do have and that's the way it is," said Kane. "If you have to talk to your children, your wife, your father... if that communication is going to happen then it's going to be a good thing."

The city council will have a public hearing on the issue Monday, October 15th at their regular meeting. If approved Verizon will have 18 months to install the tower.