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Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 23, 2009 8 years ago

Town to discuss cell phone ordinance again

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Longboat Key Town Commission will have yet another discussion on its controversial telecommunications ordinance at its Thursday, Sept. 24 regular workshop.

In May, the commission again sent back to workshop an ordinance that has been under review and had several revisions for more than two years.

Approximately 35 residents came to Town Hall in May to voice displeasure with the ordinance, urging the commission not to make any changes for fear that a revised ordinance would spur applications for 150-foot cell-phone towers.

After an hour-and-a-half of discussion, the commission agreed to workshop the ordinance at a later date.
In the meantime, the commission hoped the delay would allow companies with viable cell-phone-reception alternatives to come forward.

However, no carriers or companies have presented concrete plans for improving reception on the island.

But the majority of the town commission and Town Manager Bruce St. Denis have stayed steadfast in their beliefs that only a cell-phone tower can solve the north end’s reception problems.

Further adding to the dilemma last year was a concern from Town Attorney David Persson, who said that if commissioners don’t adopt a revised ordinance that relaxes cellular-tower-placement restrictions, state statutes could place a tower in the area if the town refuses to provide a plausible spot.

The Key’s current telecommunications ordinance, according to Verizon Wireless attorney Laura Belflower, has deterred cell-phone companies’ ability to improve service on the Key for years because tower placements were restricted to land zoned for government buildings and churches.

The revised ordinance would allow cell-phone companies to request permission to place towers on commercial and institutional properties. The revised ordinance also changed setback requirements and required visual aesthetic analysis reports to be performed for any proposal.


The Town Commission will also hold a discussion regarding oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico off the shores of Longboat Key and the surrounding area. Town Manager Bruce St. Denis reports there is a strong possibility the Legislature will discuss and approve oil drilling rigs as close as 3 miles offshore later this year. St. Denis will present a resolution to the commission for review that opposes any such action off the shores of Longboat Key.

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