Proposed Cell Tower Meets Opposition
Port Orange, FL - On July 26, a meeting was held at City Center concerning the AT&T pole that’s proposed to be built.
The tower would be 125 feet tall and located on the property of the Port Orange United Church of Christ on 651 Taylor Road. The proposal has met a lot of opposition from residents. The Planning Commission members are also in unanimous disapproval, but the decision that matters the most is the one that the Port Orange City Council will make.
Prior to the meeting residents submitted a 98-page memo with the purpose of demonstrating why the tower shouldn’t be built. It was presented by Eugene Healy, a resident of Smokerise Boulevard. In order to prove that the pole won’t be up to par with the requirements of the Land Development Code, Healy discussed that the pole was visually a “monstrosity” and is not needed to provide better cell service.
A few real estate professionals have stated that the value of the 114 homes near the future pole could be reduced by 20%. The memo brought up the point that the pole could land on homes or in the middle of Taylor Road if it were to fall after being built.
The church had no spokesman present at the meeting, but Matthew Jones, deputy city attorney, brought to the meeting’s attention that the tower’s erection is legally sound because it’s a permitted use in the zoning category of the land.
Many people were upset by Jones’ statement because it meant the board couldn’t do anything about the proposal.
The interim planning manager for the city, Penelope Cruz, explained the details of the proposal and the changes it will make. The church has allowed AT&T to build on their property which means that it will undergo a “change of use” within the Government/Public Use zoning category.
The property will change from a worship building only and the staff states that, “There are not clear, specific criteria in the LDC for evaluating a proposed Change of Use within the GPU zoning district.” The pole will also change a portion of the property to for-profit from nonprofit.
In order for the tower to be allowed AT&T has to prove that it’s necessary in order to fix a gap service and that it can’t be done by adding antennas to existing towers. Some of the residents decided to test whether there really was a gap in the service, and found that after logging 561 calls, texts, or emails near the proposed pole site they had perfect service 100% of the time.
The AT&T website even claims they have 100% coverage in the city already. The memo states that residents believe AT&T is building the tower in order to be the first in the area so they can charge rent to future companies who want to add service to their pole.
Members of the Planning Commission came to the conclusion that the location was not proper, horrible, and that the pole was an ugly eye sore. The resident’s memo is unlike anything Planning Commission member John Junco has ever seen and he was disappointed the church didn’t send a spokesperson to speak for them at the meeting.
The pole’s proposal will go before the Port Orange City Council in order for them to decide whether it should be allowed or not.
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