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Updated: 05/14/2014 08:00:03AM

Verizon won’t put phone tower at airport

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After much discussion, safety and a look into possible future situations kept the Bartow Airport Authority from saying the former water tower site would become a Verizon cellphone tower.

However, the turndown doesn’t mean Verizon cannot put a cellphone tower on the property, just not where it wants it — where the former water tower was located.

The consensus of the board during discussion was in favor of denying Verizon the water tower and overall, Authority Chairman Adrian A.J. Jackson said, “If we’re not comfortable with this why go there? I don’t find an overwhelming reason (to do this).”

At issue was a request by Verizon that it would build a 100-foot by 100-foot site formerly occupied by a 139-foot water tower. They want the pole’s height to be 145 feet. However, the water tower area — being deemed too central in the industrial park — could cause safety problems.

Cynthia Barrow, the airport’s executive director, had offered other locations but Verizon remained steadfast on the water tower site. Another objection was the length of the lease. Verizon wanted 25 years but was willing to accept 20 years, while the Airport Authority was only willing to offer 15 years.

After outlining that the airport would have almost no financial responsibility for the cellphone tower and it would be “their responsibility,” the question remained, she said, “Do we want them to construct a tower in the middle of the industrial park?”

“I worry about the future,” Authority Member Pat Huff said. He wondered what if a company like Light Sport America did locate at the airport and was offering flying lessons. The pole could create a hazard.

This was a sentiment that Authority Member Trish Pfeiffer also brought up. What if in the future there were more flying lessons. Would a centrally located tower be a hazard?

Authority Member Leo Longworth brought in a thought of how it would look.

“There’s also the aesthetics. It may obstruct a building in the future and we would be in a 25-year lease,” Longworth said.

The idea also of radar being used on approach and takeoff could get in the way. It could cause interference, Tom Parker, who was at the meeting, said.

Members also discussed the rental price. Offered at $1,600 a month, Verizon, Barrow said, had some issue with that.

Through some quick research into rental prices to cellphone providers, the price of $1,600 was considered cheap. And with the price offered, Pfeiffer pointed out that through rentals Verizon could also earn money, thus the $1,600 price could be considered cheap.

At first Huff made a motion to deny Verizon a tower and it was seconded, but in discussion afterward a question arose whether the Authority should just reject the water tower connection and have them consider the other sites that are less centrally located that were offered.

In a vote on that motion, the Airport Authority voted unanimously to reject the offer.

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