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AM cell tower ordinance passes, application ready

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Anna Maria city attorney Jim Dye, right, and cell tower consultant Rusty Monroe discuss the latest — and final — changes to the city’s new cell tower ordinance. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Anna Maria has a new cell tower ordinance, replacing the one passed in 2003.

The 2012 ordinance passed 4-0 at the commission’s July 26 meeting after more than seven months of preparation by city attorney Jim Dye, Mayor Mike Selby and consultant Rusty Monroe of the Center for Municipal Solutions — and a number of public hearings on the ordinance.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb was absent from the meeting.

A major difference from the old ordinance to the new is that new technology in the cell tower and cell phone industry has occurred since 2003.

Monroe said a key factor for the applicant is to provide propagation studies that show the need for a specific tower height.

“They have to show what height is needed for the tower to work best,” Monroe said.

Monroe and his staff will review all applications.

Their first review shouldn’t be long in coming.

The Anna Maria Island Community Center has an application from a cell tower builder to install a tower at the center.

Questions about the height of the proposed tower, the cell phone carriers that would use the tower, the fall space for the tower, anticipated revenue and how it would be shared, and what the tower would look like should all be answered when Monroe and the CMS review the center’s application.

Monroe took time to thank Dye and Mayor Mike Selby for their assistance. He said in all the time he’s worked on these ordinances, he’s never had such cooperation as he received from Anna Maria.

That brought a round of applause from the gallery.

In other business, commissioners held the first reading of an ordinance that would clarify language in a number of city ordinances, provide understandable definitions, and amend the required lot coverage and setbacks, among other modifications.

The ordinance review committee of Garrett, planning and zoning board chair Tom Turner, building official Bob Welch and others spent months reviewing city ordinances.

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick suggested the ordinance require a certain amount of green space for new construction, while Garrett suggested commissioners might want to consider further limiting lot coverage. He also suggested commissioners look at the use of a sand-shell filter mix for driveways.

Although the mix does track dirt into a house, Garrett said it drains water much better than a concrete driveway.

Selby announced his appointments for five members of the charter review committee, and renewed an apology for omitting Tom Aposporos, who chaired the 2003 and 2008 charter review committees.

Selby said he thought Aposporos lived on Longboat Key. He is the executive director of the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce and resides in Anna Maria.

“I’ve already spoken to Tom and apologized, and he’s agreed to come to the meetings as a consultant,” he said.

Commissioner SueLynn said she would prefer a committee with Aposporos as a member and voted against the motion to approve Lou Ann Collins, Tom Breiter, Howard Payne, Larry Mercadante and Jim Bennington as committee members.

The motion to approve Selby’s recommended members passed 3-1.

Commissioners will next meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

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