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Longboat Key Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022 3 months ago

Longboat Commission takes over decision for Verizon pole locations

Special meeting set for Feb. 28 to consider cell provider's proposal for small cell network.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Improving chronically spotty cell service on the north end of Longboat Key was too important of an issue for the Town Commission not to have a say, commissioners said. 

During Monday’s special meeting, commissioners voted 7-0 in favor of granting the Town Commission as the final approval authority for freestanding personal wireless facilities.

Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier recommended for the Planning and Zoning Board to relinquish its power to the Town Commission on the final authority of freestanding wireless poles.

The Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board remains the government entity in charge of such decisions until next month. The P&Z Board is set to relinquish this power to the Town Commission at a second reading and adoption of an ordinance on Feb. 7.

“This is a very unusual circumstance where we realized that something that was really a very high-level policy issue had been…where we didn’t have a say,” Mayor Ken Schneier said. “I think if we were to discover something else like that, we would have to act on it specifically.”

Schneier recommended the change of authority for freestanding wireless poles from the P&Z Board to the Longboat Key Town Commission on Dec. 6, 2021.

Monday’s vote comes after the P&Z Board unanimously recommended approval of the ordinance at its Jan. 18 meeting.

If the changes are approved next month by the Town Commission, commissioners are scheduled to hold a special meeting on Feb. 28 to consider Verizon’s proposal.

P&Z Chair David Green has publicly stated his support of Schneier’s proposal.

It was Green’s suggestion to extend the town’s public hearing with Verizon, which seeks to build nine small cell poles and antennas throughout the north end of Longboat Key. The board is set to address Verizon’s proposal in an advisory role at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15.

Several north-end residents spoke publicly before the P&Z Board on Nov. 16, 2021, in opposition to the specific placement and aesthetics of the nine proposed poles.

It’s too soon to say how Verizon will change its proposal during next month’s public hearings in terms of pole locations and quantity.

In November 2021, Verizon Wireless proposed putting nine small cell poles and antennas throughout the island to improve the signal. Map provided by the town of Longboat Key


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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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