Cell phone towers disguised as trees grow in North Texas

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by LAUREN ZAKALIK

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaalauren

WFAA

Posted on April 24, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 24 at 10:16 PM

COCKRELL HILL -- Hovering high above the tiny town of Cockrell Hill, a tree - or something like it - has a lot of people talking.

"I said, 'Honey, they're putting branches on that huge pipe up there!'" said Leo Landin of Cockrell Hill.

What appears to be an incredibly tall, skinny evergreen is actually a 140-foot cell phone tower.

"It's much more aesthetically pleasing than just a pole in the sky," said assistant city administrator Bret Haney.

Haney told News 8 that a few years ago, cell phone service in the small city near Dallas was dismal. So when a company offered to build a tower and blend it into the landscape as best they could, council signed on.

"We haven’t had any complaints," he said.

They're called "stealth" or "disguised" cell phone towers. They're a visual change from the typical metal structures you see everywhere.

They now range from trees to flag poles to cacti. You can even disguise cell towers in church steeples. The city of Arlington says it has one of those in town. Fort Worth couldn't tell News 8 if it had any stealth towers at all.

"At first it looked kind of awkward, ugly -- it wasn’t attractive," Leo Landin said.

Some in town still think that way. But now Landin likes the cell-phone shrubbery.

"It does look unusual, but it doesn’t look bad," he said.

The bonus? According to Haney, the city rakes in nearly $2,000 for letting companies use this tower. AT&T and Metro PCS lease space through Grain Communications, which currently owns the tower. Haney said there's possibility for more; another company called recently about installing another tower.

"We could have another tree," he said.

A phone-tower forest in what used to be a digital desert.

E-mail lzakalik@wfaa.com

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