At first Redmond city planning staff said no to Verizon’s plans to erect a new 70 foot cellphone tower proposed for NW 27th and NW Hemlock. Staff said it too unsightly for a rural neighborhood filled with complaining neighbors. Although the site is outside the city limits, it is within the city’s urban growth boundary so it has a great deal of say about what is built out there and where.
Verizon officials eventually sat down with planning staff and came to a meeting of the minds that the new cell tower was badly needed, even more so as Redmond’s urban development pushes farther west toward the Deschutes River.
Verizon officials told the Redmond City Council that cellphone use in the United States has been exploding to where 90% of American households have cellphones, 76% of all emergency calls to 9-1-1 are from cellphones and that cellphone data-use is expected to increase 7-fold from 2014 to 2019. Likewise, with the rate that housing developers are showing up at the Redmond planning department’s front counter, Redmond’s western urban growth boundary area will be a very busy place for the next five to ten years. It means that many hundreds, if not thousands of new cellphones will need a local cell tower to keep everybody connected. The council learned it’s been nearly ten years since the last cell tower was put up in Redmond.
Staff told the council that the answer to local resident complaints that they didn’t want an ugly cellphone tower in their neighborhood is to make the tower look like a tree. That seemed to satisfy all the neighbors except for one or two. The proposed “tree-tower” is 70 feet high with the metallic radiating elements well concealed in a “green clump” of plastic limbs and leaves at the top.
The council seemed convinced that this “tree tower” could fill the bill. Councilors asked city staff and Verizon officials to bring back a final design for review and approval. Verizon officials told Redmond News Today that the process could take the better part of a year before the new cell tower is up and running.