Hillsborough creates cell tower study group
Hillsborough County Commissioners are hoping an outside expert will help opposing sides find common ground on where to build cellular towers.
Today, the county commission voted to create a committee of concerned residents, wireless companies, school and government officials to consider changing county rules that regulate tower setback ratios â?? how far from residential property the towers need to be built. The county currently requires a tower to be set back from residential areas 1 foot for every 3 feet of tower height.
An outside expert will lead the group. Mike Merrill, the interim county administrator, said he hopes to find an academic expert at a local college who will volunteer to serve on the board. But if county leaders can't find a volunteer, they will hire a consultant, at an estimated cost of about $50,000.
The move comes after two previous community meetings devolved into arguments about the scope of the study. County planners wanted to limit the study to safety concerns, but residents wanted to broaden the scope to include other concerns, such as aesthetics. The committee will consider expanding the scope of the study based on what its consultant recommends.
The group of about 10 to 15 people will meet monthly and bring back a report to the county commission early next year.
Commissioner Al Higginbotham said he hopes this new process will establish a trust between the opposing sides.