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New Zealand's newest player in the mobile phone network has enraged the community with its plans to provide cellphone coverage to Welcome Bay.
Maungatapu residents are opposing construction of the cellphone tower, with the Tauranga City Council taking the unusual step of recommending that the application from Two Degrees Mobile be refused.
Two Degrees is developing a nationwide mobile network and wants to build a 20.5m tower near the overbridge linking the two halves of Mangatapu.
Twenty-five residents living in Avocet Ave, Curlew Close and Taipari St have submitted or signed a petition that the mast would "severely detract" from their outlook.
Richard van Arendonk of Avocet Ave told yesterday's hearing that they bought their home for the views over water and bush. Transpower's lines were reasonably out of sight.
But when Vodafone erected a tower early this year, about 30m past where Two Degrees wants to site its mast, it created an eyesore, he said.
"Adding another will make the area even uglier ... the cumulative effect will be disastrous."
The hearing, before commissioner Dorothy Wakeling, heard that the Vodafone site was consented in 2007 without going through a publicly-notified process - unlike Two Degrees Mobile.
Vodafone took over the lease of the site from Telstra Clear which was the applicant in 2007.
Mr van Arendonk said that any attempt to place another mast closer to residential dwellings would lower property values.
"The new mast will be larger and more of an eyesore."
He said it would take 30 years for trees to reach a height where they would obscure the tower - mature trees about 8m high already fronted the site.
Council environmental planner Shanan Miles has recommended refusing consent, saying the adverse effects on the environment would be "more than minor".
The height of the mast, combined with the relatively short distance to nearby houses, would result in the facility becoming a prominent feature when viewed from residential properties on Avocet Ave in particular, he said.
The lawyer acting for Two Degrees Mobile, Chris Simmons, argued that the proposal would not result in any significant adverse environmental effects and offered positive social and economic benefits to the people of Welcome Bay.
The antennae on the proposed mast had been reduced and slimmed down so that the structure would look more streamlined.
Mr Simmons said that as a general comment, he accepted that views should be regarded as an aspect of amenity values but there was no absolute right to the preservation of a view - either in common law or planning law.
Expert evidence called by Mr Simmons challenged key areas of the council planner's report.
Co-locating the antennae on to Vodafone's mast was not an option.