The controversy over 30-foot cellphone poles proposed for Piper Glen could be coming to other Charlotte neighborhoods, as cellular companies scramble to keep up with residents’ voracious appetite for data, especially streaming video.
Crown Castle, a Houston-based company that builds cellular infrastructure, said it’s also looking to build similar poles in areas such as Birkdale, SouthPark, Quail Hollow, UNC Charlotte and Blakeney.
In many cases, Crown Castle has installed the poles – which it calls small cell nodes – on top of existing infrastructure like street lights or telephone poles. In other cases, the company has installed free-standing poles.
The company wants to install four poles in Piper Glen, including at least two in the right-of-way that’s part of people’s front lawns. That has caused an uproar in the neighborhood.
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About 100 Piper Glen residents attended an informational meeting Thursday with Crown Castle. The company said it could move two cellphone pole locations to alternate sites that were suggested by residents.
But moving one of the poles would require it to be taller, from 30 feet to 40 feet. That also upset residents.
The city has said it doesn’t have much power to determine where the cellphone towers or poles are built.
The Charlotte Department of Transportation is responsible for permitting utility installations in public right-of-way. But if an application meets Federal Communications Commission standards, the city generally OKs them.
City council member Ed Driggs, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said the city is studying whether it can exert more influence over where cellphone infrastructure is built.
“I think the city is both looking at the existing ordinance, and pouring over the FCC regulations, to make sure we comply with them,” Driggs said. “This is relatively new and staff are finding their way.”
The city said it approved permits last year for 82 small cell nodes. CDOT said some are on people’s lawns, including some in the Mallard Creek area.