Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale believes the Planning and Zoning Board should review the latest draft of a telecommunications ordinance that eliminates cellular towers as an option on Longboat Key.
Mayor Jim Brown suggested in an email to Planning, Zoning and Building Director Alaina Ray and Town Manager Dave Bullock that the draft ordinance has had enough vetting with the planning board and should come before the Longboat Key Town Commission.
But in an April 28 email to Brown, Mooney-Portale recommends the draft ordinance go back to the planning board for another review.
Noting that the draft ordinance “is a whole new draft ordinance,” Mooney-Portale said Florida statutes require “a local planning agency” to review such ordinances.
“In the event the ordinance is subject to a future legal challenge, giving PZB an opportunity to review the newly drafted zoning ordinance avoids potential technical arguments that could be raised as to whether or not the local planning agency properly considered this ordinance,” wrote Mooney-Portale in her email.
The draft ordinance is a direct result of the commission’s direction at a Nov. 13 regular workshop.
The commission stated on the record in November that it doesn’t want a tower built on the Key. So town staff’s latest draft of a controversial telecommunications ordinance doesn’t even include a category for cellular towers at all.
All references of a tower have been struck through and deleted.
The ordinance also includes stringent height restrictions for other cellular technologies, noting that such alternatives such as Distributed Antenna Systems and small cell technologies must adhere to the height restrictions for that zoning district and in no instance can the technologies be higher than 50-feet from the ground.
Mooney-Portale and other attorneys are currently reviewing the draft ordinance to make sure it's legally defensible before it’s vetted in a public meeting.
For more information on the draft ordinance, pick up a copy of Wednesday's Longboat Observer.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].