By Gene Crunk
The City of Oxford’s Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday night in favor of Alabama-based UnitiFiber to install 15 new cell phone poles in Oxford residential areas.
At Monday night’s meeting, commission members heard from city staff who recommended that the commission approve UnitiFiber’s request to install the new poles. UnitiFiber needed the approval of the planning commission in order to begin installation due to some areas being residential zones.
The commission approved UnitiFiber’s request allowing installations to go forward. The company and its utility provider are already in the process of installing nine cellular poles that were previously approved at the Planning Commission’s June meeting, and they believe that more is needed.
UnitiFiber officials said they want to install more cell phone poles in order to “provide additional wireless carrier capability” and to increase E911 capabilities.
The commission believes that the new poles will help Oxford residents have a more consistent cellular experience. Documents filed with the commission state that some of the new cell poles will be replacements for existing ones, while others will be new to other areas entirely.
Cell phone poles are not traditional cell towers. Instead, these polls are smaller and more compact, usually measuring under 40 feet, though sizes can vary.
“These aren’t like the big towers,” said Oxford Planning Director Ben Requet. “They’re like the size of a streetlight.”
In its application, UnitiFiber stated that the new poles would be “decorative in nature, and (they) will blend in with the surrounding environment.” However, some commission members were skeptical.
“We’re just putting more and more by the side of the street,” said commission member Darryail Whittington. “There’s a lot of hazards out there.”
As part of the approval from the commission, UnitiFiber is required to work with the city’s staff in order to ensure that the new cell phone poles are installed in the least disruptive way possible.
The new poles will be installed in locations throughout town. These locations include The Retreat Apartments and 800 Park Luxury Living, among others.