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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jul. 14, 2010 7 years ago

Key resident receptive to cell tower

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Spanish Main Yacht Club resident Tom Freiwald sent an e-mail to the Longboat Key Town Commission Wednesday, June 23, suggesting his association has a viable place for a cell-phone tower on the north end of the island.

Freiwald said Spanish Main Yacht Club — a community of 212 homes — has an unused 65-foot-tall concrete television tower on its property that was built in the ’60s.

Wrote Freiwald: “The tower is visible from Gulf of Mexico Drive. Since the Spanish Main residents are accustomed to seeing it (or ignoring it as the case may be) there may be an interest by the residents to allow a taller tower to be built on the property; thus addressing the north end’s poor cell-phone reception issues.”

Freiwald says the old concrete tower was built to pick up basic television channels and hasn’t been in operation for years.

“No one even knows the tower is there anymore,” Freiwald said.

Town Manager Bruce St. Denis told Freiwald the town’s issues with erecting a cell tower on the property include disguising the tower, needed trenching, a collapse ground and a zoning change that would allow a tower on residential property.

“It might be difficult to have zoning changed to allow for a tower on residential property or to allow it only on the residential property at Spanish Main,” St. Denis wrote.

St. Denis also has concerns that a tower at that location is not far enough north to address reception issues.

But Freiwald remained supportive of the idea.

“I believe a tower that looks like a flag pole would be acceptable to Spanish Main, as we have two flagpoles now,” Freiwald wrote. “In fact, one of the flagpoles is within a few feet of where a cell tower might be placed.”

Freiwald says the location, which lies near property lines that already contain utility easements, has enough space for ground equipment and trenching that can be concealed with shrubbery.

And a 240-foot collapse zone or fall zone, needed in case the tower fell due to a major storm, exists between the Spanish Main clubhouse and the closest residence on Spanish Drive North.

Wrote Freiwald: “This 240-foot space would allow for a 120-foot tower. If the clubhouse does not count as a residence, then the tower could be placed closer to the clubhouse and a taller tower could be accommodated.”

And, Freiwald told The Longboat Observer he is not opposed to zoning-code changes.

“The Town Commission and/or Planning and Zoning Board could change the zoning requirements if all parties agreed that having a tower at Spanish Main is in the best interests of all parties,” Freiwald said.

Freiwald notes that the Spanish Main Board of Directors is open to a tower if the board can collect the rental fees from carriers for having a tower on the property.

St. Denis said it’s up to the commission to discuss the tower suggestion, but that won’t occur until the fall.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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