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BB hangs up on cell tower planner

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

The strained relationship between Bradenton Beach and the Center for Municipal Solutions came to an end Feb. 8 with notification the city will repeal its cellular communications tower ordinance.

CMS’s Lawrence “Rusty” Monroe and the city have been feuding for months over language in the ordinance drafted by Monroe and adopted May 5, 2011, under former Mayor Bob Bartelt’s administration.

As the city moved forward with discussions on installing a cellular communications tower near the public works facility last year, Commissioner Ric Gatehouse observed several issues in the ordinance he found objectionable.

The relationship between the city and Monroe became brittle and shattered at one point, with Monroe withdrawing — saying he would take his ordinance with him.

Monroe said the city had no rights to use his ordinance without agreeing to pay exclusive application review fees to his company, as per the original agreement outlined in his ordinance.

Gatehouse initially wanted the ordinance repealed, but settled on amending it to give the city more authority, and to prevent potential abuses from occurring to local businesses.

The two sides unexpectedly came together Jan. 24 with an announcement from city attorney Ricinda Perry that negotiations on a consulting contract with Monroe were ongoing.

However, on Feb. 4, Perry said negotiations had stalled because Monroe refused to budge on key factors important to protecting the city’s interest.

Those factors included Monroe not wanting a termination clause if he was found to be doing anything illegal and he refused to agree to the city’s standard insurance needs, according to Perry.

One of the major sticking points was that Monroe wanted the city to be financially liable for an applicant who pulled out of the review process, according to Perry.

Commissioners directed Perry Feb. 7 to try one more time to negotiate a deal, but said they could not protect the city’s best interests under Monroe’s terms.

In an email dated Feb. 8, Perry informed Monroe that the city “will not be engaging your firm for professional services.”

Monroe has insisted the city cannot use his ordinance without his services. Perry said the ordinance has too many legal issues.

She wrote the city “will be repealing its enactment immediately.”

Monroe responded Feb. 11 saying the action was regrettable and disagreed with Perry’s legal assessment.

However, he thanked the city for its decision to repeal the ordinance to protect what he called his intellectual property.

Building official Steve Gilbert confirmed that the city was going another direction Feb. 12.

“I’ve been directed to find some local ordinances that match up and fit our criteria,” he said.

Gilbert said he has looked over several thus far, “and it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for us.”

Perry predicted Feb. 7 that if negotiations failed with Monroe, it would take about two months for the city to write its own ordinance.

Gilbert said if everything went smoothly, “then two months would be pretty good. We are still going to have go back through a planning and zoning review, then it all has to come back to the commission again. So it’s going to be awhile.”

One Response to BB hangs up on cell tower planner

  1. Don Kane says:

    Great job elected officials!
    I’m from Illinois “where our ex-Governors make our license plates”, but even the politics of little towns are amazingly simliar, aren’t they?
    Public safety be damned. The chief of police told me all I needed to know over a year ago about he need for a cell tower.
    Friends came to stay on AMI last week but quickly checked out and moved on. His heart condition required access to 911 and their cell phone didn’t work within a block of their rental.

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