South Tampa cell tower battle still brewing
March 19, 2010
Opponents of a proposed cell tower near the gateway to the Sunset Park subdivision in South Tampa say they will keep fighting to block its construction.
Despite impassioned pleas from residents insisting the tower would be unsafe and unhealthy and destroy the neighborhood's entry vista, the Tampa City Council on Thursday voted 4-2 to grant a permit for the 150-foot tower on about a half acre near a shopping center at 4343 Henderson Blvd.
"We're not going to roll over. The fat lady has not sung," said Lisa Williams, who has opposed previous efforts to erect cell towers near neighborhoods and schools.
Marlin Anderson, president of the Sunset Park Area Homeowners Association, said members will discuss the matter before deciding whether to appeal.
The homeowners association objected to the tower, along with more than 20 condominium owners and some business operators with property nearby.
Court reporters for people on both sides of the issue were at the public hearing. The application was filed by Tampa-based F&L Towers, with telecommunications company Clearwire - at least for now - the only carrier with an agreement to use the tower.
The council's vote granted waivers to nearly double the tower's allowable height from 80 to 150 feet and reduce setbacks.
"Approval of this monstrous waiver makes our zoning and planning moot," Sunset Park resident Bill Cook said. "You might as well have no zoning and let everyone come here one at a time."
Clearwire representatives said the additional height makes it possible for up to six carriers to use the tower.
Land-use attorney Ethel Hammer, representing F&L, noted the city has approved towers as tall as 190 feet elsewhere in South Tampa.
Council members John Dingfelder and Mary Mulhern voted against approving the permit. Councilwoman Linda Saul Sena, who had voted no earlier, abstained on Thursday because she learned of a conflict due to her husband's business interests, she said.
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