Churches and Cell Towers: How They Work Together to Serve a Higher Purpose

Cell phone carriers are building new remote sites and cell towers in areas and in ways that were never conceived a few years ago. This is due to the fact that most industry experts believe that only about 30-40% of the total number of remote cell tower locations have been constructed to date. The following are some of the reasons for the continued build out:

• The population has become more and more reliant upon mobile cellular technology for phone communication purposes in addition to transfer of data through smart phone, I pads, laptops etc.; thus the need for more remote and unique cell tower locations to handle the increase in demand.

• As can be seen with the major telecom carriers advertising campaigns, the leading reason why cell phone customers switch carriers is due to interruptions in their phone service (i.e. the dropped call), which is in part due to wireless signal coverage issues. As a result, the cell phone carriers are constantly seeking to upgrade their coverage areas.

• The end result in many urban areas is a resurgence of cell tower site construction. This development has been more subtle than ever before. With having to meet more stringent zoning regulations for cell tower placement, the telecom industry has developed more innovative and often times unassuming ways of meeting those new restrictions. For example, a church location. So why would a cell tower company look at a church as a possible solution to their tower site needs? Churches have an immediate advantage due to their low impact to the surrounding area. What is almost impossible to accomplish in a residential neighborhood, is typically an easier passage when requested by a church.

Consequently, an increasing number of churches are being approached to place cell phone equipment and facilities on their property and more particularly to allow the installation of a wireless antenna on their existing structures. A church is advised to have guidance to as it goes through the process of interpreting the terms of any agreement; whether that is a current cell tower lease or a proposed lease agreement for your church’s property.

A church needs to assess the fair market value of its property as it relates to the proposed cell tower rental rates for a cell phone carrier’s occupancy and use. A church should make sure that its property is properly protected from any non-monetary issues (i.e. liability, compliance, taxes etc.) that are associated with allowing a third party to occupy and use your church’s property.