Town seeks to alter cell tower controls

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Longboat Key Town staff is seeking Commission approval of Comprehensive Plan amendments that change how cell towers and telecommunication technology will be considered by the town and potential applicants.

Resolution 2013–09, which is a comprehensive plan amendment, will be voted on by the Commission on Monday, June 3 at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. The resolution will then go to the state for review and comment and then the comments will be incorporated into an ordinance that will come back to the Town Commission eventually for adoption.

A major change proposed in these Comprehensive Plan amendments is to take the height restrictions of cell towers out of the future land-use element and out of the comprehensive plan altogether.

The language changes will specifically exempt height as a restriction on cell towers.

The policy change says height regulations shall be addressed in the town’s Land Development Regulations (LDRs).

The LDRs are easier to change and require a lower threshold to adopt a change or to pass a deviation from the height limitation that is currently in place in the zoning category and referenced in the Comp plan today.

In the staff report written by Planning and Zoning Director Robin Meyer, Meyer says that federal and state law places restrictions upon the town’s authority to regulate personal wireless service facilities. As a result, wrote Meyer, when the town was presented with the demonstrated need for modified or additional personal wireless service facilities, the town worked to balance that need with our need to protect the aesthetics of the town and to minimize the visual intrusiveness and other impacts.

The town will utilize the land development regulations to evaluate applications for personal wireless service facilities based on a hierarchy of preferred options for personal wireless service facilities within the town with towers being the least preferred option. Those preferences can me modified by a majority vote of any sitting Commission.

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