The site of a proposed 65-foot cell phone tower designed to look like a church bell tower associated with Corpus Christi Catholic Church, on whose land the tower would sit, northeast of Knox Road and 36th Street. Neighbors say the tower would be about three times as tall as the trees it would sit behind, blocking out mountain views. Ari Cohn/AFN

Plans to build a 65-foot-tall AT&T cell phone array disguised as a church bell tower in an upscale central Ahwatukee Foothills neighborhood have some longtime residents crying foul.

"Who expected the church to be the one to ruin our property values with this monstrosity?" asked Jean Davia, who lives immediately across the street from the proposed tower, which would sit alongside 36th Street north of Knox Road on land owned by the Corpus Christi Catholic Church.

Neither church officials nor AT&T returned calls before press time, but a city zoning adjustment hearing on the proposed tower has been slated for 9 a.m. Dec. 30 at Phoenix City Hall, 200 W. Washington St.

Plans call for a 65-foot-tall tower topped by a large cross, concealing a cell phone antenna array, said Michael Hammett, city Planning and Development Services spokesman. The project would need a city permit before it could move forward, he said.

Barb Yurka, who has lived just up the road from the proposed cell tower site for 20 years, said putting a nearly seven-story structure up will have a huge impact on her view of South Mountain.

"It's going to be hideous," she said. "I would never, ever have purchased this house had a tower been there."

Both Yurka and Davia said they had been led to believe that the site was in an area protected from development. Communication with the neighbors has been lacking, Davia said.

"This is just out of the blue," she said. "It totally cuts the view in half. They need to look for a place where there is already something in existence and put it there."

Karen Young, assistant general manager of the Ahwatukee Board of Management, one of the area's larger homeowners associations, said the board hurriedly called a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the tower.

"The board of directors changed their agenda," Young said. "They're in a fact-finding mode right now. They just wanted to look at the proposals. It's the first anybody's heard of it."

Chris Gentis, a member of the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee and the Ahwatukee Board of Management, said he believes the local planning committee should have some say.

"I think we should hear it and make an advisory opinion on it," Gentis said. "That's not a utility area. There's nothing else like that around there."

Davia said she's gone along with all the church's community events that spilled out into the neighborhood over the last 15 years, and would like the church to be considerate, in turn.

"If they go through with this, they're going to find the neighborhood a much colder place," she said.

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