'Monopine' Cell Tower Supported in Appeals Court
Township Board vote against T-Mobile found to be untenable.
A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision issued Tuesday could allow T-Mobile to "plant" a tree-esque structure to benefit cellular communication in a West Bloomfield Township neighborhood.
T-Mobile had originally filed an injunction against the township after a 2009 decision by the Board of Trustees to deny it the right to build a 90-foot cell tower designed to resemble a tree in place of a 50-foot pole at Detroit Edison's Walnut Substation.
T-Mobile said at the time that construction of the "monopine" would address a gap in coverage in areas near the substation, on the west side of Middlebelt, just south of Long Lake Road. The board had cited concerns with the aesthetics of the structure in voting against a special land use permit, which, according to the court decision, created a situation in which T-Mobile could not build at all.
Telecommunications companies have built monopines in recent years to address concerns of aesthetic appeal, according to Brandon Hurley, a project manager with Artistic Engineering in Orange, CA.
Hurley primarily works in California and the Southwest to artistically render monopines, as well as cell phone towers designed to look like palms and most recently eucalyptus trees.
According to minutes from a Feb. 2009 decision by the Township Planning Commission which preceded the board's decision, a monopine currently stands at Northwestern Highway and Orchard Lake Road and it has received visual upgrades since being initially installed.