Disguised as a giant Eastern white pine, the new cell phone tower looms over its surroundings in Otter Creek. Yet to be affixed to the top of the 120-foot tower are the AT&T Mobility antennas. PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Cell phone ‘tree’ towers over village



MOUNT DESERT — Unless the Jack-and-the-Beanstalk story has come to life in an odd sort of way, that really isn’t a tree that’s suddenly towering above the forest canopy on a hill in Otter Creek.

It’s an AT&T Mobility cell phone tower disguised as an Eastern white pine.

Members of a Coast 2 Coast Telcom crew attach a faux pine branch to a section of the AT&T Mobility cell phone tower they were preparing for installation in Otter Creek just before Christmas. PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Members of a Coast 2 Coast Telcom crew attach a faux pine branch to a section of the AT&T Mobility cell phone tower they were preparing for installation in Otter Creek just before Christmas.
PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

The artificial conifer was assembled and installed over several days starting the middle of last week. A Coast 2 Coast Telcom construction crew attached hundreds of “branches” with realistic-looking needles to the two upper sections of the tower’s “trunk” then used a giant crane to lift the sections into place.

After all of the infrastructure at the site has been completed, AT&T will install its antennas on top of the tower. AT&T officials have not said when the site will be operational.

With the antennas in place, the tower will be 125 feet tall, the maximum allowed by the town’s telecommunications facilities ordinance.

The tower is near the boundary of Acadia National Park and the park’s Blackwoods Campground.

AT&T originally applied to the town for approval to build a tower with a standard “monopole” design. But Acadia officials expressed concern that it would distract from the views from several places in the park, especially the south ridge of Cadillac Mountain. They wanted the tower to be shorter than 125 feet and camouflaged to blend in with the background.

Park Management Assistant John Kelly said a “monopine” tower disguised as a giant pine tree, such as the one on Ireson Hill in Bar Harbor, would be an improvement. But he said the park hoped AT&T could come up with an even less obtrusive design.

Bristling with branches on top, a section of the tower waits to be rotated so that more artificial limbs can be attached. PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Bristling with branches on top, a section of the tower waits to be rotated so that more artificial limbs can be attached.
PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

The planning board asked AT&T and Acadia officials to work out a compromise. They eventually agreed on a tower that would resemble an Eastern white pine with asymmetrical branches.

Kelly told the planning board that the park would still prefer a shorter tower.

“But we also want a very well camouflaged and authentic as possible tree,” he said. “So, there is some give and take. We’re satisfied with a well-camouflaged tree in lieu of a shorter tower.”

The planning board approved AT&T’s application to build the tower in August 2014.

AT&T is leasing the tower site, which is on an 11.4-acre lot owned by Hillard and Betty Walls.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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