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East County Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021 9 months ago

Cell tower on way to Lakewood Ranch area at Lorraine Road and S.R. 64.

Commissioners unanimously approve a 150-foot monopole tower at Lorraine Road and S.R. 64 in Lakewood Ranch area.
by: Scott Lockwood Staff Writer

Those who have AT&T cell phone service in eastern Manatee County could be seeing more bars for stronger service on their cell phone.

At a land use meeting Dec. 2, Manatee County commissioners voted 6-0 (with Commissioner Vanessa Baugh absent) to allow a 150-foot monopole tower to be built on the Hide-Away Storage property on the corner of State Road 64 and Lorraine Road.

Jeff Wright, an attorney representing CitySwitch, said the tower will be part of the national AT&T/First Net federal partnership that will provide a dedicated communications network for first responders. AT&T was awarded the contract to run the network in 2017.

The first responders network is basically a premium network for public safety during emergencies,” Wright said. “It provides better coverage and reception for essential services and quicker emergency response — particularly radio and cellular provision.

The tower will have a 10-foot antenna on the top. Wright said there will be room for as many as four carriers to share space on the tower.

Jeff Wright, an attorney representing CitySwitch, explains the benefits of a proposed 150-foot cell tower to the Manatee County Commission on Dec. 2. It will be constructed on the southeast corner of Lorraine Road and S.R. 64.

“There is room for colocation of other users,” he said. “The real reason that we're looking for this is because coverage is needed in this area. There's certainly a coverage gap. The purpose of the proposed towers is to improve wireless coverage in this growing area of Manatee County, including existing neighborhoods and future developments. It's been identified in this area as needing to improve coverage based on customer complaints blocked by AT&T. This includes dropped calls, no service and test data.”

The tower will be located in the middle of the property on the southeast corner of the intersection. It will be buffered by buildings that are at least 12 feet high, landscaping along the sides of the property and forest to the south. 

Commissioner Carol Whitmore said people complained about a 20-foot buffer around a cell tower before it was built in Holmes Beach in 2009, but hasn’t heard a single complaint after residents realized the benefit of the tower. 

‘“I tell people to look for the cell towers and they don't know where it is, because nobody tends to look up,” she said. “These poles are for public safety. How many of you have landlines at home? This is all about public safety so we can look at the future.”

Manatee County Planner Dorothy Rainey said the tower will allow adequate service and coverage for cellular and radio communication systems in an area which has recently been approved for more than 4,500 residential units. Wright agreed.

“This is going to have a big impact on the ability to to receive services in that area,” he said. 

Construction on the tower should begin early in 2022.

In other action, commissioners unanimously approved a general development plan for 53,056 square-feet of commercial retail development on 5.29 acres of land located 500 feet to the west of the northwest corner of the intersection of State Road 64 and Lorraine Road.

The development by CASTO will be located next to a 7-11 that is under construction on the corner of the intersection. Linda Stewart with Morris engineering said that access to the property will be via State Road 64 and will share a connection point that is under construction at the convenience store.

CASTO’s Dan Moyer, who was in attendance at the meeting, said he could not comment on the exact plans for the retail development at this time. 


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