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Date of Issue: February 09, 2006

Verizon still planning cell tower for Anna Maria

Although Verizon Inc. has made no official application for a personal wireless services facility - commonly known as a cell tower - in Anna Maria, the plan is not dead, according to attorney Laura Bellflower, who represents Verizon.

"We're still working on it, but there's nothing to submit at this time," said Bellflower.

She had no timetable for when Verizon engineers and contractors might be ready to submit a formal application for a cell tower in the city.

Anna Maria adopted a cell tower ordinance three years ago that governs the size, location and style of cell towers, but no wireless communications company has yet applied to build a facility.

Bellflower and Verizon officials met with Building Official Kevin Donohue in December to "informally" discuss the application process and ordinance.

Under the ordinance, approval of some cell towers, depending upon size and location, must come from the city commission, although the city administration can approve some facility locations.

Verizon has not yet indicated where they would like to construct their tower, but a preferred location could easily be the Roser Memorial Community Church or at city hall.

The company had a deal with the church in September 2001 to build a cell tower on top of the church steeple, but the deal fell through following a public outcry against the project.

After consulting with cellular communications expert Ted Kreines of California, the city learned that under federal law it could not prevent construction of personal wireless services facilities, only regulate certain aspects of size, style, location and height. That led to the 2003 adoption of a master plan for personal wireless services facilities and accompanying ordinance.