In one of the more memorable opening lines of an opinion from the N.C. Court of Appeals, Judge Linda Stephens writes of Fehrenbacher, et al v. City of Durham, et al: “This is a case about a giant fake pine tree and what it means to conceal the aesthetic externalities of modernizing our State’s telecommunications grid.”

Stephens and two colleagues unanimously agreed with a trial court and upheld the Durham City-County Board of Adjustment’s decision to approve construction of a 120-foot-tall cell tower — disguised as a tree — on the property of St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, across Highway 751 from the plaintiff’s backyards.