By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
The Ormond Beach City Commissioners denied permission to Capital Intercom and AT&T to build a 150-foot camouflaged telecommunications tower at 1102 W. Granada Blvd. by a 4 to 1 vote.
Mayor Ed Kelley was the lone vote for the application. The tower would have been built in the South Forty Trails subdivision.
Ric Goss, Ormond Planning Director, gave a presentation explaining the proposed ordinance to allow the tower to be built at West Granada and Clyde Morris Boulevard.
Mr. Goss explained two specific issues the Site Plan Review Committee used as reason for denying the application. First, the property was already an existing non-conforming developed site and an additional use would require the site to be brought up to code. Secondly the proposed tower has a required 300-foot setback from residential property. The application proposed a waiver of 117 feet making the setback 183 feet. That would also reduce the maximum tower height to 91 feet.
Mr. Goss said the Planning Department would also recommend denial of the application.
Lauralee G. Westine, agent for AT&T, Capital Telecom and property owner Shah Industries Inc., presented details on the request, citing such benefits to the city as enhanced 911 service as well as increased data capacity as demand continues to increase.
She said during an April 4 public hearing, Dick Morgart, president of the South Forty Trails Home Owners' Association, indicated his group had no objection to the tower.
Ms. Westine exhibited a number of photographs and maps showing locations and sightlines as well as several photographs showing what the tower would look like when placed in the surrounding landscape. The applicant is proposing a "MonoPine" tower, which is a "camouflaged" tree-shaped structure with the transmitters hidden within the branches. The "trunk" would be painted brown and the branches green, simulating a tall pine tree.
The tower has been variously called everything from a toilet brush, a Frankenpine, a tall artificial Christmas tree, a sign of progress and a necessity.
Ms. Westine said, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, 75 percent of the more than 318,000 calls to 911 were made on cell phones.
Also, she said the city's Fire Department, Police Department and the Sheriff's Office use AT&T as one of their service providers and AT&T will be the anchor tenant in the proposed tower.
Lack of capacity to handle an increase in usage would result in dropped and blocked calls, Ms. Westine said. Reducing the height of the towers would decrease this capacity.
Only two citizens spoke against the resolution -- Lee Khazraee, who lives 7 miles from the proposed tower, and Dr. Charlene Evans Thomas, who lives across the street from it. Dr. Thomas was concerned that if the tower is not going to have a light on it, a plane could hit it.
In other business, the city agreed to pay River Bend Investment Group $230,000 to settle a lawsuit filed in 1989. River Bend and the city entered into a lease agreement regarding the building and operation of a golf course. The lease called for trees on a green belt buffer area to be maintained by the city in a "natural condition." The city removed the trees. In an attempt to remedy the problem, the city spent $350,000 to create a berm and concrete wall. This was unacceptable to the River Bend Group.
Also, the commissioners voted unanimously to place new restrictions on businesses that are sexually oriented. Treading lightly around first amendment rights, they agreed to the use of zoning restrictions and special and conditional use criteria for the businesses.