Mixed reception after township OKs cellphone tower

VERGENNES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Lowell-area neighbors are split over the approval of a cellphone tower that would be installed in a rural residential area not far from a historical district.

Some of them have filed an appeal with the Vergennes Township Board of Appeals to stop that tower from going up.

The roughly 200-foot Verizon tower, which was approved by the Vergennes Township Board in February, is the source of both frustration and excitement for neighbors.

Some residents who live nestled in the woods say it will encroach on their rural lifestyle.

“Even here, we don’t have street lights, even,” neighbor Cara Debbaudt said. “We have nothing. It’s dark skies. It’s beautiful. We have tons of nature and that’s something that a lot of us moved out here for.”

“It’s going to be probably at least 100 feet above the trees. You’re going to see it from the covered bridge, one of three covered bridges in Michigan,” she continued.

“The proximity to the historic village and the covered bridge in the background, it’s disturbing that there would be a cell tower nearby that’s visible,” Fallasburg Historical Society President Ken Tamke said.

That historic bridge in Fallasburg Park. Tamke said the area is also rich with Native American history.

“It seems like there might be a better place to locate it where it wouldn’t be so close to this historic location,” he said.

He said that because the tower would be so close to the historic district, Verizon was required to contact the Historical Society through Section 106 of the State Historic Preservation Office. On its application, Verizon said it sent a letter to the Vergennes Historical Society but didn’t get a reply.

24 Hour News 8 could not find any evidence that the Vergennes Historical Society exists.

>>PDF: Section 206 application

Despite those concerns, some neighbors are ready be out of something of a black hole when it comes to cell coverage.

“What do you want? Do you want the reception? Or don’t you want no reception? I mean, it’s just now we’re getting internet cable out here. It’s like we’ve been in the Stone Age and they’re finally catching up with modernization,” neighbor Brad Phillips said.

Vergennes Township Clerk Heather Hoffman said the township held a public hearing in December and received letters supporting and opposing the tower. She also said the township believes Verizon followed protocol with its application.

>>PDF: Letter Debbaudt wrote to the township

The Board of Appeals will review the appeal at a meeting April 26.

24 Hour News 8 reached out to the owner of the property where the tower would stand, but had not heard back as of Wednesday night.