As cell phone companies continue to expand their coverage to bring us faster internet on our smart phones, more and more applications are coming in for new cell towers in Knox County.
The Metropolitan Planning Commission approved two new U.S. Cellular towers Thursday afternoon: one in East Knoxville on South Mall Road and one near Fountain City on Oaklett Drive.
The location of these towers is causing controversy with residents who live near the sites.
"We would really like to not even have it in our neighborhood but you know everybody wants good service. I want good service but I don't want their tower in my back yard either," said North Knoxville resident Charles Henry.
He believes a 170 foot cell tower just behind Sterchi Elementary School will be an eyesore in their backyards. He said it would be too close to residences and the school.
The neighborhood association met with U.S. Cellular and presented a petition with nearly 200 signatures against it to the MPC. Their hopes were to get the tower moved and lowered.
And they aren't the only ones. The Alice Bell Neighborhood is in the same boat with a proposed tower next to their community garden.
"We're asking them to consider sites that won't be on our front porch," said Alice Bell Neighborhood Association President Bob Wolfenbarger.
But Thursday afternoon the MPC said they saw no reason to deny U.S. Cellular based on their locations.
"We can't deny them a site or coverage if they can demonstrate there is a need that has to be filled to provide that service," said MPC staff Tom Brechko.
U.S. Cellular's representative at the meeting, Jackson Kramer, explained they choose the sites carefully.
"It's a fairly complicated process that requires a lot of engineering. It's not as simple as saying, 'Hey this looks like a good site. Let's move it here,'" said Kramer.
U.S. Cellular compromised with the North Knoxville group by lowering their tower by 25 feet.
"We want to try and accommodate these neighborhood concerns where we can. We can't do it everywhere... but we can do it here," Kramer said.
It's an effort the neighborhood appreciates, but still disappoints them.
The MPC expects there will be more of these battles to come as companies expand their 4G LTE coverage.
Approval still rests in the hands of the city council.
U.S. Cellular says that 4G will be available to their customers by the end of the year. Verizon began offering 4G service about a year ago. AT&T announced plans to offer it last week.