Centerville Twp. Orders Removal of Internet Tower, Nearby Winery says it Hurt Views

Leelanau County needs better internet service, according to local officials – but at what cost?

After being granted a permit, an internet service provider put up an internet tower in Centerville Township last week. But those plans came crashing down, after a neighboring winery said the tower blocked views, which they say would hurt their business.

The zoning board of appeals ordered the removal of the pole. The 120-foot pole was toppled over on Friday afternoon.

Chateau Fontaine winery has gone back and forth with pole owner Cherry Capital Communications for months. The proposed site for the pole was less than 500 feet from their vineyard. The winery wants to start hosting weddings and other special events, and says the tower would block vistas and discourage business.

“No one’s going to want to have an event up here and be looking at a WiFi tower, said Doug Matthies of Chateau Fontaine winery. “We’re fighting for our rural landscapes and our property values and the furthering of our business.”

Early this year, Tim Maylone of Cherry Capital Communications applied for the permit to erect his tower. The Centerville Township planning commission initially gave him the O.K., but the zoning board of appeals reversed that decision days later. Maylone took the issue to circuit court, and a judge told both parties to reach a settlement.

Maylone proposed setting up the pole so the zoning board of appeals could see its visual effect near the winery.

“Once they saw it, they agreed with all of our evidence and our statements, that it will hinder our property values and the future of our business,” said Matthies.

Maylone says that his towers is within county ordinances.

“Nobody owns the view beyond their property lines,” said Maylone. “We feel that we weren’t treated fairly and building a tower is within our rights to do.”

Centerville Township supervisor Jim Schwantes says the community’s commission consider aesthetic impact when making decisions.

“Everyone’s concerned that [there will be] too many towers to look at,” said Schwantes. “There are, in all of the ordinances, including ours, a want to minimize towers so they’re not just everywhere.”

Leelanau County is working on plans to contract municipal poles to private ISP’s.

“The county itself has authorized use of all of its towers and WiFi towers,” said Schwantes.

In the meantime, Cherry Capital Communications is still fighting for their tower.

“We’ll continue to fight for our right to build.”