Longboat Key resident Ronald Platt sent a letter to Mayor George Spoll Thursday, Oct. 7, seeking his help in deterring a cellular tower application that was filed with the Planning, Zoning and Building Department Tuesday, Oct. 12.
Platt, who owns a home at 6211 Gulf of Mexico Drive, worries that the tower, which would be built just south of his home on the west side of Gulf of Mexico Drive, will reduce property values and cause radiation exposure.
“Proposals are being prepared to erect a huge and ugly 150-foot cell tower opposite my home,” Platt wrote. “This tower would reduce the value of my property, make it harder to sell, pose a radiation risk and threaten severe damage during hurricanes, tornadoes or tropical storms. A 150-foot tower would look dreadful alongside (the chapel) and would dominate the area. This tower would negate the worthy efforts you and the commission are making to improve the appearance of Gulf of Mexico Drive.”
Longboat Island Chapel officials signed a lease agreement July 26, for a five-year tower lease with Jimmy Eatrides, owner of Longboat Key-based Alpha-Omega Communications, and Kevin Barile, president of Tampa-based Ridan Industries II.
Eatrides, who declined to comment on the letter, told The Longboat Observer he has met both with Platt and Platt’s next-door neighbor, former Mayor Jeremy Whatmough, who also opposes the tower.
But Eatrides attempted to defuse the comments made about property values and radiation.
“The amount of electromagnetic radiation you get standing at the bottom of a tower is basically background noise,” Eatrides said. “The fact is, the closer you live to a tower, the less your cell phone has to work to attain a signal. The further away you live from a tower, the more your phone has to work and more electromagnetic radiation is emitted from a device you hold up to your ear every day.”
Eatrides said people get more electromagnetic radiation every day from their cell phones, microwaves, garage doors and laptop computers than from being near a cell tower.
Eatrides said he would include a revised real-estate study with his tower application.
“From a real-estate perspective, if you want someone to pay the most amount of money for your property, they are going to want to have good cell service unless they want to live on Gilligan’s Island,” Eatrides said.
The tower, Eatrides said, has also been relocated to a proposed site on the Longboat Island Chapel property at 6200 Gulf of Mexico Drive that’s in the most eastern part of the property near the back parking lot.
“The new site moves it further back from Gulf of Mexico Drive and further buries it into the chapel foliage,” Eatrides said.
Eatrides and Barile are planning on holding a community meeting in November at the chapel to address any concerns from residents.
Barile and Eatrides hope to have the application reviewed by the planning board at its 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21 regular meeting.
The application would then be forwarded to the Town Commission for its review at a regular workshop and, possibly, first-and-second reading approval at future regular meetings.
The 150-foot tower, Eatrides said, allows for six cellular carriers to carry their service on the structure.
Eatrides and Barile said the lease agreement and pending application is a culmination of more than three years of discussion with the chapel’s board of directors and the congregation.
The base of the tower would be 5.5 feet in diameter and would include an elevated platform supporting all of the carrier equipment that would sit 5-to-6 feet off the ground.
The tallest portion of the tower, or the tallest 60 feet of it, would be 42 inches in diameter.
All of the equipment would be enclosed in a wall system and be shielded with landscaping.
Both Eatrides and Barile say it’s the only tower the north end will need to close service gaps in cellular coverage.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].