Improvements to cell phone coverage in the area of Hartsville Pike and Airport Road in Gallatin could happen as early as next year.
Verizon Wireless is seeking approval of a site plan to build a 100-foot-tall cell phone tower on 1.18 acres near the intersection of Longleaf Drive and Old Airport Road behind the National Guard Armory, according to plans submitted to the Gallatin Planning Department.
"Obviously this area is growing," attorney Joey Hargis, who represents Verizon, told members of the Gallatin Planning Commission on Monday. "So much (more) capacity is need to keep up with the needs and uses of smartphones."
The tower will also have space for up to three other wireless service providers and help improve coverage in the area, including at the Sumner County Regional Airport nearly two miles away.
The wireless telecommunications company is asking for an exemption from the Gallatin Zoning Ordinance's tower separation requirement, which states there must be a minimum of 6,600 feet between monopole towers. The nearest existing cell phone tower is located on U.S. Highway 31E some 6,252 feet from the proposed Verizon project.
Hargis told planning commissioners the company wants to avoid using a stealth design for the tower, which would reduce the separation requirement to 1,660 feet if implemented.
City leaders approved the first stealth design in 2014. The tower, which is meant to resemble a pine tree, is located off Gap Boulevard near Volunteer State Community College.
"Quite frankly, the one that has been installed in town is not very attractive," Hargis said Monday. "It would stick out like a sore thumb (here)."
The Gallatin Planning Commission is expected to vote on the Verizon Wireless project during its next meeting scheduled for March 27. If approved, construction on the new cell phone tower could be completed within 18 months.