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Palm-Aire cell tower on Tuesday's commission agenda


BRADENTON - The prospect of a cell phone tower in the Palm-Aire community will bring out a crowd again for Tuesday's meeting of the County Commission.

The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. at the Manatee County Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W. in Bradenton.

In an e-mail, Deborah Chapman of Palm Aire Homeowners Against the Tower said County Commissioner Donna Hayes read inaccurate information into the record about the informational meeting with Vertex, the company building the tower.

Chapman said Hayes has received angry e-mails, and noted that County Commissioner Joe McClash has said the new code should apply "even if the land use regulations are not modified before the Palm-Aire tower application is received."

Residents of Palm-Aire have called for the codification of the County Commission's Nov. 4 resolution to limit tower installations in residential communities.

In her e-mail to the residents, Hayes said she was not supporting or opposing the tower at present and that the letter she had read was to explain the procedure that would be followed. "This is not a public referendum and the outcome will be determined by legal procedure with a hearing officer, not a community vote," Hayes wrote.

"I read that letter because I felt that I should read it in its entirety," she said Monday.

In addition, Hayes wrote, "On Tuesday, my point was to advise you the commission would not have input. On similar issues, I have been advised by county legal department that I cannot interfere or offer opinion to the magistrate. Federal FCC rules will apply to this project as well. There are rights as outlined by FCC that need to be followed as well. As you can see, this is a very long and complicated process. I would recommend that you keep the communication lines open with Vertex and the Country Club Board."

On Monday, Hayes said she was advised by County Attorney Tedd Williams that could be required to not vote on the issue if she makes any comment before the application is filed.

"This commissioner has made no decision," she said. "I couldn't possibly make a decision."

Hayes said that to represent her constituents in the district where Palm-Aire is, she's therefore avoiding commenting on whether she favors or opposes the tower.

Fighting on several levels

On Monday, Chapman said she's leading the fight on the county level but that others are working at other levels. Country club members have expressed their concerns because the contract was made without a vote, and they have been told there's nothing they can do, she said.

Other plans are to follow what County Commissioner Carol Whitmore suggested and offer alternative sites for the tower.

Within Palm-Aire's communities, there's more discussion, Chapman said.

"There's been ongoing conversations about what has occurred," she said. "A lot of people are writing the commissioners regarding their concerns about the tower."


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