The unanimous “yes” rang loud and clear April 21, when Bradenton Beach commissioners approved the first reading of a new telecommunications ordinance.
The commissioners will consider a second reading of the ordinance during their next meeting — 7 p.m. May 5 at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.
The ordinance was about a year in the works. The process of revising the city’s regulations pertaining to telecommunications began after the city received several overtures from companies interested in building a cell tower.
The firmest proposal involved the construction of a stealth tower on city property near the police and public works department off Highland Avenue. Preliminary conceptual images showed a unipole tower blending with mast poles in the nearby marina.
Commissioners, at the time, were concerned that the telecommunications ordinance was out of date, given the pace of new technologies. So the commission contracted with Center for Municipal
Solutions, a consulting firm, to draft new regulations, as well as review any proposals from companies.
The 29-page ordinance amends the land-development code and establishes a “uniform and comprehensive set of standards for the development and installation of telecommunications towers, antennas and related facilities.”
A public hearing on the ordinance drew no speakers to the commission chambers April 21. Nor did any commissioners speak to the ordinance.
• Requires a company to obtain a conditional-use permit from the city before the construction of a telecommunications facility.
• Encourages a company to share or co-locate telecommunications facilities.
• Requires stealth technology to “minimize adverse aesthetic and visual impacts” of a telecommunications facility.
• Requires from a company a detailed narrative explaining the need for a proposed facility.
• Restricts the construction of a telecommunications tower to municipally-owned property.
• Sets the maximum height for a tower at 120 feet.
• Prohibits lighting on a tower, except what might be required by the FAA.
The ordinance contains a requirement for what’s known in the telecommunications industry as a “balloon test” — before a public hearing on any tower, the applicant must fly at 10-foot long balloon the maximum height of a proposed tower.
The ordinance also requires that at least two weeks before, the applicant for a conditional-use permit must erect a large sign near the site announcing the balloon test.
The measure also requires a “zone of visibility map” and simulated photographs of a tower be provided before a public hearing on a permit.
In other business…
In other business April 21, the Bradenton Beach City Commission:
• Proclaimed April 29 as National Arbor Day in the city and reaffirmed the city’s interest in becoming a Tree City USA.
• Adopted a resolution exempting the Manatee County Marine Rescue Headquarters at Coquina Bayside from paying stormwater fees.
The facility, which is on county-managed property, is not tied into the city’s stormwater system.
The marine rescue team began moving into the building April 15, but work — “punch-list items” — continues on the structure, said division chief Jay Moyles.
He said an open house would take place, but a date has not been set.
• Appointed Ingrid McClellan of Keep Manatee Beautiful to the ScenicWAVES advisory committee.
The next commission meeting will be at 7 p.m. May 5.