Houston homeowners upset over not being notified of 5G box placement

Nick Natario Image
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Got a 5G box placed in your yard? Here's what to do next
5G boxes are coming to Houston, but you won't be notified about it. So, what happens when that box appears in your front yard?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Cellular boxes are starting to appear in front of Houstonians' houses without any kind of warning.

Adeline Wijnands Pang and Dirk Wijnands found what they thought was the perfect Montrose location.

"I like this area," Pang recalled. "It's walkable. It's got young, hip people around here."

"We loved the home because it's nice, and spacious, as well as the view outside the front window," Wijnands recalled.

But that view now looks very different from when they moved into the home.

"It's like having a refrigerator in your front lawn," Wijnands explained. "It's a big wide box. It doesn't fit in the scenery."

The box placed in their front yard is not to store food, but to boost cell signal. Verizon said it's spending millions in the Houston area to increase its 4G and 5G networks. The company said when it can't use a pole, it creates a ground furniture house.

SEE ALSO: The future of 5G Wireless Technology: Speed & Security

Four years ago, Texas lawmakers passed legislation making it easier for companies to place boxes on rights-of-way. It's something a Houston city spokesperson said they opposed, but the legislation allows companies to place a box without notifying a homeowner.

"I just feel a little violated," Pang said. "Like, whoa. How did you do this?"

To expand networks, more boxes will be coming to Houston. If you want to know if a unit is heading to your house, Verizon said it works with design districts, historical commissions, and HOAs.

If you're upset about the placement of a unit, Verizon released the following statement to ABC13: "Please know we take all complaints very seriously. Each case is assessed on an individual basis, with many factors going into that assessment. In limited instances, we have determined that there is sufficient reason to move it, and have done so."

The Montrose couple doesn't own the home, but they worry about what would happen to the value if they did.

ABC13 asked Frank Lucco, managing director of Accurity Qualified Analytics, who practices in real estate appraisal, if the boxes could impact home value. Lucco said he hasn't studied the new 5G boxes, or had a case involving one. However, he said in the past, utility additions don't decrease the value of a home.

He explained the current housing market is tight, and there isn't a lot of inventory. Because of this, buyers may not be turned away by the box. When the market softens, Lucco said the box could be considered an eyesore, making the house sit longer on the market. Lucco added that utility additions tend to hurt higher-priced homes because buyers can be pickier.

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