City code required cell phone tower to be disguised as tree

GRANDVILLE, Mich. – Local residents are questioning the undercover pine tree that’s newly installed in their neighborhood on Canal Avenue behind the Lowe’s parking lot. In the telecom industry it’s called a “monopine.”

“We just saw it today the first time: we were driving down the road and I said, ‘that tree looks kind of funny, it kind of offends me,’” said Theresann Pyrett, a Grand Rapids resident.

Assistant Grandville City Manager Matthew Butts told FOX 17 that Capital Telecom owns the cell tower, and Verizon Wireless has antennas on the monopine. Butts said the Planning Commission approved the tower in January, after Capital Telecom proposed the tower as a monopine in order to meet Grandville’s zoning ordinance. According to Section 12.30.B of city code, only alternative tower structures, like the monopine, are allowed in the C-5 zoning district.

Some residents, like Clark Vredevoogd of Grandville, agree with the camouflage.

“I think it’s pretty cool actually the way that they disguised it from being a cell phone tower I heard it was Verizon’s cell phone tower, so better coverage for me I guess,” said Vredevoogd.

Others locals told FOX 17 that they looked twice at the cell tower that doubles as a flag pole at Northview High School; but as for the monopine on Canal Avenue, they said they weren’t fooled.

“It looks like a decent pine tree for maybe out in California, but out here in Michigan it really doesn’t blend in at all,” said Pyrett.

But some who have been to the West Coast said they were tricked, like Dick Dehaan of Jenison. Dehaan admitted that a tall pine tree like that looks like the giant Redwoods.

“My son lives in Portland, Oregon and they have pine trees out there that just like that: they’re tall and narrow. I thought it was real because I’ve seen real trees that look just like it,” said Dehaan.

According to mapmuse.com, there are at least 10 FCC cell phone towers within a 15-mile radius of Grand Rapids.

In 2011 Verizon Wireless built their first tree-like cell phone tower in West Michigan, which sits at the Muskegon Elks Lodge. It looks like a 155-foot tall tree.

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