The Longboat Key Town Commission has finally taken a stance at a meeting on the possibility of a cellular tower ever being erected on the Key.
At the commission's Wednesday workshop, where votes can't be taken, all seven commissioners expressed they don't ever want to see a cellular tower on the island. And five out of seven commissioners directed staff to come back to them at a later time with a revised ordinance that states a tower is not allowed on the Key unless there's no other way to improve telecommunications.
"We are far enough along in the process that the cell tower is no longer a solution," said Commissioner Pat Zunz.
Commissioners Phill Younger and Jack Duncan agreed, urging the commisison to make it known through a consensus if the rest of the commission agreed.
Mayor Jim Brown called for a show of hands consensus. Then Brown, and Commissioners Terry Gans, Duncan, Younger and Zunz raised their hands in agreement.
Only Vice Mayor David Brenner and Commissioner Lynn Larson didn't raise their hands. But the two commissioners noted they also don't want a tower on the Key.
"The only problem I see with this is if we go on record saying, 'No tower,' I'm concerned about the legality of saying we are outlawing cell towers."
Town Manager Dave Bullock said the consensus was the direction his staff needs to review the legality of an ordinance that would address telecommunications without a tower. He will utilize the help of a future consultant and report his findings back to the commisison.
Town Attorney David Persson called the commission's consensus "a watershed moment for the town."
"For the first time in years, there's direction as to what this town wants to do on this issue, so thank you," Persson said.
Also at the meeting, the commission agreed only to a portion of modification suggestions to its boat and trailer parking ordinance, agreeing only to changes that restrict storage pod parking. The commission decided against making boat parking changes until an Urban Land Institute subcommitee being formed next week can review the controversial issue and make further recommendations. Longbeach Village residents have opposed the town-wide ordinance, saying that a ban on boat-and-trailer parking in a historic boating community in which many lots don’t have waterfront access is unfair.
Also at its regular workshop, commissioners:
• Agreed with a proposed resolution that allows the town to provide a defined contribution plan for the 11 members of the Longboat Key Police union as part of a three-year contract that also freezes the underfunded police pension plan.
• Discussed modifying the town’s noise ordinance to include muffling equipment for lawn equipment. Staff will continue to look at the issue
• Agreed to dissolve the Zoning Board of Adjustment and assign its duties to the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board if registered voters approve the measure in a referendum set for the town's March election.The recommendation is being made because the ZBA has not been able to obtain a quorum and hold a meeting for several months.
• Set March 25 as the date for the town's municipal election and agreed to hold early voting at Town Hall for voters.
• Discussed Town Manager Dave Bullock’s annual performance. All seven commissioners submitted satisfactory evaluations with marks that ranged from satisfactory to excellent.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org