Spanish Main considers cell tower

Editor & Publisher

A group of residents at Spanish Main — a 28-acre property consisting of 212 residences — is pursuing the possibility of a cell tower at the site of an existing 65-foot abandoned concrete television tower.

Each property owner received a letter indicating the property owners’ association Board of Directors was interested in examining the possibility of a tower at Spanish Main.

The property, zoned R3MX, which stands for multi-family residential, sits between Cedars East to the South and Emerald Harbor to the north.

Longboat Key Vice Mayor Dave Brenner said he spoke with a Spanish Main board member who expressed interest in pursuing a tower and Brenner replied, “Are you nuts?”

But Brenner was then told about the existing concrete structure that sits about 20 feet south of the Community Center and the main office at the marina boat basin on the far eastern end in the center of the property. Brenner was told it had been used many years ago for enhanced television reception.

The logic behind the push for a tower at Spanish Main is if the existing concrete structure has not bothered neighbors or residents, then replacing it with a cell tower would be unobtrusive.

Part of the dilemma for those wanting the tower is not only must support be gained by the voting members of Spanish Main, but according to the Town’s Telecommunications Consultant, a 120-foot tower at a location even farther north than Spanish Main is what would be needed to address the areas of poor or marginal coverage. That is why the consultant advocated a Distributed Antennae System as a more viable alternative for a community sensitive to views, aesthetics and property values.

Today, the 65-foot old concrete tower is visible from most every property along both the south and north sides of the Emerald Harbour community where property values exceed $1 million in most cases. The view or economic impact of a larger tower has not been studied or quantified to date.

The cell tower builder that has reportedly been contacted in the effort is Highpoint Tower Technology located in South Sarasota.

Highpoint had written the Town Commission in May seeking to provide a cell tower revenue-sharing solution to the Town on either town or private property.

Brenner estimates a tower would provide about $35,000 to $45,000 in lease revenue annually per carrier to rent space on a tower and most towers hold 4 or 5 carriers.

Longboat Planning and Zoning Director Robin Meyer has had some conversations he said with the Spanish Main parties and said the idea would not be allowed under the current cell tower regulations. But with the changes under consideration by the Planning and Zoning Board and the recent amendments to the Town Comprehensive Plan, it could be applied for under a Special Exception Use or a change in allowable uses in residential zones. Meyer said the tower could not be grandfathered as its use has been abandoned for many years.

Currently, the Town is attempting to develop telecommunications regulations with the Commission asserting it wants a hierarchy for approval with cell towers being the least preferred solution for telecommunications needs. The language is currently in the Planning and Zoning Board, which wishes to increase the maximum allowable height in the new language to 120 feet on private property from the staff-suggested 100 feet. The Town Commission last month voted to amend the Comprehensive Plan to remove all height limitations of cell towers leaving any control to regulations that have yet to be adopted. The Commission will place any new height regulations in the Land Development Regulations, a lesser threshold to modify or depart from if the Commission so wishes.

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2 Responses for “Spanish Main considers cell tower”

  1. Tony Jimenez says:

    Thank goodness someone see the value in this. We all have and use cell phones, Reliable communications is paramount.

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