Townsend, Tennessee
January 6, 2010

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  The sky is clear and the sun is shining on Townsend, Tennessee.  The higher mountains like the ones we see from our house still have a layer of snow on the ground.  It’s cold, 20 degrees right now.  It will warm up today to around the freezing mark.  Then tomorrow the snow will start falling.  Some weather sites say we’ll only get 1”.  The National Weather Service thinks 1” to 3” down here and more in the mountains.  To our North the storm will drop much more snow than predicted here.  So, we can expect an interesting day tomorrow.

I would not plan to go fishing in the Park today.  I know some people will, but not me. Many of the local fly fishermen switch to spinning rods this time of year.  Casting a spinning rod from the bank is much safer than wading with a fly rod.  When the water and air are this cold, falling in the stream could be fatal very quickly.  A lady fell in a Smokies stream before Christmas and was swept downstream 60 feet. Her husband pulled her from the water and she was unconscious.  She was only in the water a few minutes.  Maybe she hit her head.  But, hypothermia was most likely the cause of death.  You won’t last long in 32 degree water.

If you do go fishing today, don’t fall in.  I think I’ll tie flies for the next few weeks and wait for Spring.  It won’t be long.

As we plan the future of Townsend we must recognize our strengths.  What attracts tourists to our area?  Of course the first answer is “The Park”.  And you can break it down further to Little River and Cades Cove.  And of course there are the beautiful mountain views seen from everywhere in our valley.  I get up every morning, come to work and look out my window at this spectacular view. 

Michael Talley and I had an interesting meeting yesterday.  Mike and his family own the Talley Ho Inn, a third generation family-owned motel that most of you have heard of and probably spent some nights there. Michael is Chairman of the Townsend Planning Commission and I serve as a commissioner. We are forming an ad hoc committee to deal with cell phone towers.  Our job is to report back to the planning commission with our findings and recommendations.  Our job is also to protect the mountain views that are important to our community’s economy and for the enjoyment of our residents.

I guess the simple thing to do is ban all cell phone towers.  We have been told you can’t do that.  After all, almost everyone except me owns a cell phone and use them while working and while on vacation.  So cell phone towers are going to be visible on our Nations landscape at least for a while, until they become obsolete.

We can write ordinances that limit the height above ridge tops.  We can write ordinances that require some type of camouflage, making them blend into the surroundings.  We can have some say in how they are lit.  We can require setbacks from adjacent property lines. And we can decide what procedure and what guarantees we have that the tower will be removed when it becomes obsolete.  That is a big issue.  When cell towers become obsolete we don’t want to stand around looking at them for 20 years until they finally fall down. 

Removal of a cell tower, the cables, the concrete pad and support buildings is expensive.  If a company abandons a location and there are no ordinances related to removal, penalties, attorneys fees, bonds and communications with the FCC, well we might just be looking at an un-used piece of metal for decades.  I’m not saying that our communications companies would do this, I just think we need some assurances that it will be done. 

My understanding is, some of these towers are not owned by the big communications companies that we are familiar with.  Some are owned by companies who build them and lease space to the communication companies.  It’s possible, at some point, these companies that own the towers will be bankrupt.  Then who is going to pay to have them removed?  That is where bonds and other security instruments become important. 

We do have some city ordinances that address all of the above.  And they are written well.  But we want to cover all the bases, protect the landscape and make sure any obsolete equipment is removed. 

Yesterday Michael and I found some excellent ordinances from other cities and rural areas by searching online.   This is going to be an interesting learning experience and hopefully we’ll make a difference in the future of our community.

Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.

Byron Begley
January 6, 2010

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