Legislation threatens Longboat power line burial plans

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Small cell wireless legislation moving through the current Florida legislature could potentially negate the town’s undergrounding efforts according to Longboat Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale.

The town, to fight the legislation, will consider allocating $20,000 to special counsel and lobbyist Dean Cannon at a meeting next Wednesday.

Mooney-Portale says that the legislation as currently drafted gives broad authority to wireless service providers to erect small cell and other wireless antennas within town right-of-ways without any input from the local jurisdiction. She added that the bill also allows “antennas and other unsightly equipment” to be erected on any utility poles which are defined as signs, traffic signals, light fixtures and electric poles.

This is particularly troubling to the town since voters recently passed two referenda to spend more than $40 million to underground each and every utility line and pole in the community. The town has survey work underway and has moved forward with the projects.

Mooney-Portale said the bill does not make any accommodation or exceptions for communities such as Longboat Key that are in the process of financing such an undergrounding project. The bill, according to Mooney-Portale, also does not allow Longboat Key or any community to have any input in preserving the aesthetics of its community.

“It is with the above concerns in mind that the town manager and I believe that it is necessary to engage special legislative counsel on the town’s behalf for purposes of opposing this legislation,” said Mooney-Portale.

Mooney-Portale drafted an engagement letter for Mr. Cannon and his firm, Gray Robinson, and will ask the commission to ratify, approve and consent to the firm’s engagement.

The legislation, specifically Senate Bill 596 and House Bill 687 are available to view at the end of the online edition of this story at www.lbknews.com


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