Holmes Beach postpones cell tower addition
Citing the need for more public input, Holmes Beach city commissioners
March 28 held off on making a decision on a request for a special exception
by cell phone carrier Metro PCS to add a fourth antenna array to the
existing cell tower at the Smith Realtors building on Marina Drive.
also wanted more time to study the structural engineering
report provided by Harlan Ginn of Metro PCS on the
stress another antenna would have on the tower. The
commission wants to ensure that the tower can still
withstand 141 mph winds as indicated when the tower
was originally built in 1997. Ginn's report indicated
another antenna would not exceed the structural limits.
chairman Roger Lutz said he believed everyone "needs
to be heard" on the request, but agreed the commission
probably has "no choice" but to grant the
ordinance creating the cell tower only provides for
four antennas. The request by Metro PCS would add a
fifth antenna, but if the company is turned down, under
the existing ordinance it could simply build its own
cell tower in another location in the city.
Ginn said the
structural engineering report has been on file with
the city since March 2005, when the company first applied
for a permit to add another antenna.
He said Metro
PCS is the "newest" player in the cell
phone industry and already has 170 antennas around
the country, but all of them are "co-locations" on
existing towers. On occasion, he said, the company
has forgone a tower location because its own engineers
have noted that the addition of another antenna would
put too much stress on the tower. That's not
the case in Holmes Beach, according to the engineering
report submitted by Ginn.
Susan Longo of
the building department said about 12 nearby residents
have come in to look at the plans and were originally
concerned that the tower was going to be higher or
bigger with the addition.
Longo noted that
if the original ordinance had granted space for a fifth
antenna, Metro PCS would have no need to go through
the special exception process. The tower currently
has four antennas, three for private cell phone carriers
and one for public use by fire, police and emergency
She also said
the department gets structural reports on cell towers
in the city "all the time" and the owners
of this tower are required by ordinance to submit a
full structural report at the end of its first 10 years
of existence. That report would be due in 2007.
Fine, said Lutz,
but he and other commissioners would still like more
public input and continued the public hearing until
He said he hoped
more residents and concerned citizens would show up
at that meeting to voice their opinion.
In other business,
City Treasurer Rick Ashley gave an update on the Grassy
Point Nature Preserve and said the city and the Sarasota
Bay Estuary Program have joined forces to clean out
the exotic plants in the area as part of "Phase
I" of the project.
Funding for the
cleanup will come from grants that the SBEP will obtain,
Phase 2 of the
plan would include creation of an estuary, public access
and possible boardwalks and a nature path, he said,
but that's in the future. The plan now is just
to get Phase 1 completed.
Phase 2 would
require an extensive amount of local and state permits
and would require "major dollars" to complete.
Ashley said he
is continuing efforts to obtain the last remaining
privately owned parcels in the area, but noted that
previous efforts have been unsuccessful.
Key Royale Bridge
also agreed to authorize Mayor Carol Whitmore to provide
the Florida Department of Transportation with an additional
$138,000 deposit for the Key Royale Bridge project.
Ashley said the
DOT had contacted the city recently to indicate the
increase cost for construction is for the construction
engineering inspection report, which was done by a
private firm, not the DOT.
He said the DOT
has assured him there are no more costs to be added
to the already $2.95 million project, which should
begin this summer and take about nine months to complete,
the DOT has said.
The good news,
Ashley said, is that the city is slated to get all
the money it borrows for the bridge — excluding
interest — back in the 2007-08 DOT budget.
DOT estimate two years ago for a new Key Royale Bridge
was $1.8 million, a figure that has steadily increased
as construction costs have risen. The DOT was scheduled
to begin the project in January, but changed that in
December to "within a few months."
In her report
to the commission, Whitmore said the contractor for
the Haverkos II drainage basin is scheduled to start
work on May 1.
The city is working
with Manatee County to get water meters installed in
the Sunrise Boat Basin for individual boat owners to
have access to fresh water.
court adjacent to Birdie Tebbetts Field will be fenced
on three sides and court lines painted soon, she said.
Sandy Haas-Martens said she lives across the street
from the court and has been "pleased" to
see that it's already being used.
guys in their 70s are already out there playing. I
think it was a great idea," she said.
agreed not to schedule a meeting April 11 as a number
of commissioners will be attending a state conference
on hurricane preparedness.