Residents Nix Small Cells In Knoxville

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UPDATE Since 2018, telecoms have been working to prepare Knoxville (TN) to be a “smart” city, including plans to install 5G poles in the rights-of-way, reported The Knoxville Focus. Since January, hundreds of residents in Farragut, a suburb of Knoxville, have vocally opposed the small cells that telecoms want to bring to their town and, in their terms, “plant” in front of their properties.

At a Planning Commission meeting in January, neither Verizon Wireless nor the members of the Commission could answer questions regarding plans for small cell infrastructure posed by irate residents, many of whom were ignored, the Focus reported. Residents were concerned with small cells having potential heights of 40 feet and being installed in the ROWs in front of their homes, possibly lowering property values, and emitting “cellular radiation,” reported the Focus

Now, U.S. Cellular has posted a Public Notice in Farragut regarding the installation of a small cell facility, including a utility/street light pole with a height of 38 feet; the notice does not indicate if the towers will be 4G, 5G, or both. This week, the Planning Commission will hold a closed meeting to discuss “the development of an aesthetic plan for new vertical utility infrastructure within public rights-of-ways.”

The meeting, which will not be open to the public due to COVID-19 concerns, has sparked outrage with residents. One resident sent an email to the Town Administrator protesting the closed meeting and requested the decision on the small cells be delayed until an “in-person public forum can resume.” 

Meeting comments may be emailed to: c[email protected] and must be received by Noon today, June 18, to be included in the meeting record. Any comments must be accompanied by a name and address, reported the Focus.

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