Cellular Towers Increasing

The wireless communications boom is changing the coast landscape.

Several years ago, cellular phone towers were hard to find. These days, it seems you can't drive anywhere without seeing several of the high rise antennas.

Gulf Coast Wireless is the company building a 135 foot wireless tower on Courthouse Road next to Gulfport High School. The project did not meet any opposition. But towers often do. That's why communication companies consider alternatives.

"Put our antennas on existing towers so we don't have to build all these towers along the coast here. A lot of people are not real happy about seeing towers sticking up. So we do our best to co locate on these towers," said project engineer, said project engineer Donnie Humphries.

A cell tower in east Ocean Springs attracted some opposition when it was built several years ago. But a more recent tower project, next door to the downtown police department, was welcomed by city leaders.

"We had numerous antenna towers on the roof of the police department. And we needed to do some roof repairs, put a new roof on. So it kind of worked to our advantage to have a tower there. And they allowed us to go on their tower," said Ocean Springs Mayor Seren Ainsworth.

Avoiding residential neighborhoods is one of the key factors Biloxi leaders consider in allowing cell towers. That's why there's a tower outside the city building on Martin Luther King Drive downtown.

Planning director Ed Shambra says the city zoning ordinance regulates where the towers may locate.

"Actually this was one that we actually suggested to them. Because the alternative would have placed it much closer to the residential areas and would have been something which would have been more of an eyesore," said Shambra.

Regulations and restrictions for cell towers are typically written into a city's zoning ordinance.