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Churches Increasingly Rent Out Steeples As Cellphone Towers

SAN RAMON (CBS 5) - People demanding better cellphone service without having to look at a bunch of new towers may soon have their prayers answered.

"Church steeples make an excellent location for a cell site," said John Britton of AT&T. "You have nice location on it. It's giving good connectivity and people don't even see it."

Steeples are the latest place towers are hidden in plain site. They are disguised as trees. They are in trees, and even on fast food signs. Usually there is controversy no matter where they go.

At Canyon Creek Presbyterian in San Ramon, the pastor said they make upwards of $30,000 a year for putting the site in his steeple, and many others are doing the same thing. They lose part of their tax exemption, but still make money on the deal.

Mindy Spatt of the utility watch dog group TURN worries it could help the companies in lobbying efforts.

"Churches, as independent non profits, could be unduly influenced by these contracts," said Spatt.

The utilities say they just want to provide better service...from up above.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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