People driving past the Village of Cleves, Ohio on US 50 (River Road) are noticing something missing: a 150 foot tall cylinder-like tower that stood out like a sore thumb just a few days ago.
It was September 19th when WCPO first reported on the controversy over what appeared to be a new cell phone tower, that went up with no warning, and loomed directly over the entrance to Cleves, visible from almost anywhere downtown.
But just as quickly as it went up, the tower is gone, along with its fence and concrete pad. All that's left is a pile of straw along River Road.
Cleves residents say a crane arrived Monday, and in less than 24 hours took it down, with the tower disappearing as mysteriously as it had gone up.
Amy Schunk owns Traditions Hair Salon on Miami Avenue in downtown Cleves, just a half block from the tower. She says "on the NextDoor neighbor app, people were talking about it coming down, but nobody knew why."
It had been the buzz of the town for weeks. Several residents told us last month it looked like no other cell phone tower they had ever seen, and wondered if it was the first of a new wave of 5G towers.
"You can see it's like an ugly menace sitting there," Michelle Krinsky said.
Dean Beckett, owner of Ann's Tavern. told us "it looks like a big space heater to me."
Most agreed that while the village needs better cell service, a giant ugly tower downtown wasn't the best way to do it.
Why did the tower suddenly come down?
We contacted the Village to learn more about what happened.
Cleves officals say after seeing our initial report, and hearing from several upset homeowners, they decided to get to the bottom of it and find out who got the permit to build a tower so close to the shoulder of US 50, a major road.
It turns out there never was a permit.
Cleves Village Administrator Mike Rahall says "ODOT (the Oho Department of Transportation) had no record of the tower, and they investigated, and they determined it was put up without permission. And so ODOT then ordered the company to take down the tower."
Rahall says the biggest issue was that the tower was just 10 feet from River Road, a place ODOT would never have approved due to safety reasons.
The Chicago-based company that built the tower has not commented. But a Sprint spokesman confirmed to us it was intended to be a future Sprint tower, and would be able to handle future 5G cell service.
But ironically, despite all the controversy it was not yet powered up. It had not even been wired yet, according to Rahall.
Lessons to other communities
But this proves two things:
One is that citizens can fight cell towers that pop up with no community involvement, and that they consider to be a serious eyesore or appear to be too close to roads, homes, and schools.
And two, with the upcoming 5G rollout, we'll see a lot more mystery towers, because 5G requires many more towers. The FCC has streamlined the process, so that cell companies do not have to hold community hearings before building a tower.
Cleves residents like Amy Schunk and Dean Beckett say they do need more towers, because the cell service is spotty in the river valley.
They just say next time they'd like the community to be asked about locations, before a giant one shows up in downtown.
As always, don't waste your money.
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